NASA says next launch to be in June

Published April 11, 2007

CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA has pushed back the launch of space shuttle Atlantis until at least early June so that technicians can finish repairing its hail-damaged fuel tank, officials said Tuesday.

The new launch date was set for no earlier than June 8 - a nearly three-month delay for the first shuttle mission of the year.

NASA had been trying to decide whether to finish repairing the tank and use it for Atlantis' mission or swap it out with another tank. But NASA managers said they were pleased with the progress of repairs that have been made.

Golfball-sized hail left thousands of dents on the foam insulation on Atlantis' fuel tank as it sat on the launch pad in February. The space shuttle was rolled off the launch pad and sent back for repairs, forcing NASA to miss the March 15 launch date.

A June launch of Atlantis pushes back the flights of the three other shuttle missions that NASA hopes to launch this year.