Hail fix may delay Atlantis further

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Repairing damage to a space shuttle fuel tank from a freak hailstorm probably will push the next launch of the shuttle Atlantis from April to mid-May, NASA said Wednesday.

Atlantis is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station to deliver and install a third set of solar arrays.

NASA intended to launch the shuttle March 15, but the craft had to be returned to a processing hangar to repair fuel tank insulation damaged during a hailstorm Feb. 26.

NASA has until May 21 to launch the shuttle, or it must wait until June 8 for more launch attempts.