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Atlantis launch successful

12 June, 2007

NASA has launched the Atlantis space shuttle after the launch was delayed because of a damaging hailstorm. The safe launch of Atlantis has thus finally put NASA back on track. In the first space shuttle flight in 2007, NASA's Atlantis took off on June 8, 2007with seven astronauts on board.

The weather was perfect for the launch with a clear sky and as expected the launch was smooth. The Atlantis was launched at 7:38 p.m. EDT, thus starting its course for the International Space Station. The count-down was nearly flawless and the shuttle launched into the orbit around the earth.

The flight to the International Space Station will take 11 days. The main aim of the mission is to deliver a new segment and a pair of solar panels to the orbiting outpost. The crew will also replace a member of the ISS.

The mission by NASA had been delayed by three months after a hailstorm damaged the fuel tank. The hailstorm damaged the vital insulating foam and one of the orbiter's wings.

Mike Leinbach, launch director, said just before the launch, "It took us a while to get to this point, but the ship is in great shape."

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said, "We've had a tough six months for a number of different reasons. We'd love to have a textbook launch and a textbook mission. It would just make everybody feel good."

Once the hailstorm damaged the external fuel tank, the shuttle was moved back to the hangar and the scientists repaired the tank with foam rather than swap out the entire tank. This time, NASA was a bit cautious about the repair as they did not want to repeat the Columbia tragedy, which killed all the astronauts on board.

NASA had initially decided to launch five shuttles, but after the hailstorm it decided to decrease the number to four. NASA hopes to launch at least 12 construction missions.

The members of the Atlantis crew include Rick Sturckow, Lee Archambault, and mission specialists Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson, Danny Olivas, James Reilly and Clayton Anderson.





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