Space Shuttle Damaged by Hail


Golfball sized hail fell at Pad A yesterday, knocking at least 7000 chunks of from from the External Tank. Inspections and meetings are taking place now, but the odds are good that she'll have to be rolled back to the VAB for about a week's worth of delay in repairing. Unfortunately due to the number of hits, they may need a whole new tank which will set the program back well over a month...

- Rob
Rollback confirmed... Options for a minor repair might get her off before the end of this window (March 25th) but from what I've seen that won't be possible. Major repairs might get it fixed in time for the 4/23 - 5/24 window, if a tank replacement is required they will push it back to July and move STS-118 (which was scheduled for the end of June) to August 26.
I was on watch last night, and I looked at this carefully. We had storms pop up around base, but the LDN showed tons of lightning over much of S. Florida. This is the funny part, they never issued a warning, at any point in time.
NWS Melbourne did have a warning out in advance of this storm, and per the NASA press conference today the people at the pad had 10 minutes notice to take cover from large hail...
Also interesting is the recorded wind gusts of 72 mph and that the hail had accumulated several inches deep in some spots.