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Archive for Thursday, March 22, 2007

NASA delays picking Atlantis’ launch date

March 22, 2007

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— NASA managers won't decide until next month on a date for Atlantis' next launch, giving technicians more time to assess hail damage to the space shuttle's external fuel tank, officials said Wednesday.

Atlantis originally was scheduled to lift off last week, but the launch was postponed after golf-ball-size hail caused thousands of dings on foam insulation on the fuel tank as the shuttle sat on the launch pad last month.

Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations, said NASA managers probably would wait until April 10 before deciding whether to use the current tank - which would leave open the possibility of flying in May - or swap it out with another tank - which would push back the next try until June.

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