God Slides Shuttle Launch to the Right

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- A scheduled March 15 launch has been delayed after the external fuel tank attached to the shuttle Atlantis and possibly the orbiter itself were damaged by a hailstorm at the launch pad Monday afternoon.

NASA meteorologists say wind gusts of 62 miles per hour and golf-ball-size hail were observed at pad 39A, where Atlantis was undergoing final preparations for launch.

Workers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are still assessing the extent of the damage, but NASA managers decided Atlantis must be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for thorough inspections and repairs.

The rollback means Atlantis will not launch in March as planned. Program officials hope repairs can be completed for a launch in late April or May.

Read the rest (and see the video) here . . .

-- Ward

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