Huge hail stones hit Atlantis, causing hundreds of dents and minor surface damage to some 26 heat shields.
The insulating foam and the heat shield on the shuttles have been of critical concern to Nasa since the destruction of Atlantis' sister ship Columbia and the deaths of its crew in February 2003.
Columbia was struck on launch by a large piece of insulation foam that punctured a hole in its left wing and left it open to the destructive superheated gases of re-entry.
Nasa has redesigned the tank to try to minimise foam loss, and has now carried out three successful flights.
Nasa managers had been studying whether to replace the tank for the Atlantis mission, but are now confident the existing one can be repaired and are pleased with the progress of repairs.
NASA to launch Space Shuttle Atlantis in June
Posted on Saturday, Apr 14 2007 @ 03:17 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck