HOUSTON (AP) -- Life in space returned Thursday to as close to normal as it has been since the Columbia disaster three years ago.

After the space shuttle Discovery docked with the international space station, the orbiting outpost was fully staffed with three crew members for the first time since 2003. European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter arrived on the shuttle for a six-month stay.

And the news for Discovery was also reminiscent of more carefree days: NASA found no major problems with the shuttle's heat shield.

Pictures taken by the space station crew, as Discovery approached for the linkup, uncovered no serious concerns with the thermal tiles, said deputy shuttle program manager John Shannon. He called that "somewhat of a surprise, but a very pleasant surprise." As of Thursday evening, experts on the ground had analyzed many of the 352 digital images.