02.27.07Katherine TrinidadHeadquarters, Washington202-358-3749Kyle Herring/Jessica RyeKennedy Space Center, Fla.321-867-2468RELEASE: 07-60HAIL DAMAGE FORCES SHUTTLE ATLANTIS OFF LAUNCH PADCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA decided Tuesday to roll the Space ShuttleAtlantis off its launch pad and back inside the Vehicle AssemblyBuilding at the Kennedy Space Center. Managers made the decisionafter a hail storm Monday damaged the orbiter's external tank. A newtarget launch date has not been determined, but teams will focus onpreparing Atlantis for liftoff in late April.On Monday, a severe thunderstorm with golf ball-size hail caused whatcould be 1,000 to 2,000 divots in the giant tank's foam insulationand minor surface damage to about 26 heat shield tiles on theshuttle's left wing. Further evaluation of the tank is necessary toget an accurate accounting of foam damage and must be done in theVehicle Assembly Building, where the entire tank can be more easilyaccessed. The shuttle is expected to be moved off the pad by earlynext week.Once an up-close look at the damage is complete, the type of repairrequired and the time needed for that work can be determined.Atlantis' flight, STS-117, to the International Space Station will bescheduled sometime after a Russian Soyuz spacecraft returns from thestation. The Soyuz is delivering new station crew members andreturning others back to Earth in late April. Adequate time is neededbetween the Soyuz undocking and the shuttle's arrival to the station.STS-117 Commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Lee Archambault and MissionSpecialists Jim Reilly, Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson and John"Danny" Olivas will continue training at NASA's Johnson Space Center,Houston, as they await a new target launch date. During the 11-daymission, the astronauts will work with the station crew and groundteams to install a new truss segment, unfold a new set of solararrays and retract one array on the starboard side of the station.