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Space Shuttle Atlantis Rolls Back

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Mar 5, 2007 12:01 am
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NASA Press Release:

Space Shuttle Atlantis began its roll back to the Vehicle Assembly Building this morning at 8:47 a.m. (16:47 GMT) from Launch Pad 39A. The vehicle is being roll backed due to hail damage that occurred on the tank during a severe thunderstorm that happened on Feb. 26.

The trip back takes approximately 7 hours and should be hard down inside the Vehicle Assembly Building around 4 p.m (22:00 GMT).

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.

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