tampabay.com

Dateline Florida

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 16, 2007


BY DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT SHUTTLE CREEPS TO LAUNCH

After 2 1/2 months of repairs to its external fuel tank, space shuttle Atlantis has returned to the launch pad, ready for an early June liftoff to the international space station. The 3.4-mile trip early Tuesday aboard the massive crawler-transporter took nearly seven hours. The last time Atlantis made the trip was in February. The shuttle was on its launch pad for a mid-March launch when a freak hailstorm swept through and pounded the fuel tank. Golf ball-sized hail left thousands of dings in the tank's crucial insulating foam. Technicians sprayed on new insulation foam in some areas, hand-poured foam on other areas and sanded down spots. The launch is planned for no earlier than June 8.

Sing us a song, not a Stephen Foster song

The search for a new state song to replace the 19th century one has begun with a 21st century twist: a Web site. The Florida Music Educators' Association created justsingflorida.org to collect nominations. The group is working with state Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, who calls Old Folks at Home racially offensive. The Web site has guidelines for entries; the deadline is Oct. 1.