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Space Shuttle Poised for Inspection


*Space Shuttle Poised for Inspection*

External tank showing hail marks Image above: A view of the external 
tank with hail marks. Photo credit: NASA/KSC

+ View Photo Gallery 

Space Shuttle Atlantis will be rolled back from the launch pad to 
evaluate the damage caused by a severe thunderstorm with hail on Feb. 26 
at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But before returning the shuttle to the Vehicle Assembly Building, NASA 
managers have decided to remove the propellants that were already loaded.

This work is progressing and should be completed for the rollback to 
take place March 4.

The hail caused approximately 1,000 to 2,000 divots in the giant tank's 
foam insulation and minor surface damage to about 26 heat shield tiles 
on the orbiter's left wing.

Further inspection of the tank is necessary to get an accurate appraisal 
of foam damage and must be done in the Vehicle Assembly Building, where 
the entire tank can be more easily accessed.

Once an up-close look at the damage is complete, the type of repair 
required and the time needed for that work can be determined.

Mission STS-117 to the International Space Station will be scheduled 
sometime after a Russian Soyuz spacecraft returns from the station. The 
Soyuz is delivering new station crew members and returning others to 
Earth in late April. Adequate time is needed between the Soyuz undocking 
and the shuttle's arrival to the station.

During the 11-day mission, the six-member crew will install a new truss 
segment, retract a set of solar arrays and unfold a new set on the 
starboard side of the station. Lessons learned from two previous 
missions will provide the astronauts with new techniques and tools to 
perform their duties.

STS-117 Commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Lee Archambault and Mission 
Specialists Jim Reilly, Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson and John 
"Danny" Olivas will continue training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in 
Houston as they await a new target launch date.

The Atlantis flight crew will return to Kennedy Space Center a few days 
before launch.

*STS-117 Mission*
+ The Crew 

+ The Mission 

+ The Integrated Truss Structure 
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