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Antenna on Atlantis Damaged

March 6, 2000

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Workers inadvertently damaged an antenna on space shuttle Atlantis while preparing the ship for an April launch, NASA said Monday.

The dish-shaped antenna, 3 feet in diameter and made of graphite epoxy, was being folded down into its launch position when it banged into the basket of a work bridge on Sunday night, NASA spokesman Joel Wells said. The bridge had been erected along the length of the shuttle payload bay.

No one was standing in the basket at the time.

The antenna ended up with a quarter-inch nick that engineers believe can be repaired, Wells said. The antenna provides the main communication link between the orbiting shuttle and Mission Control.

Wells said it’s too soon to know how and why the accident happened.

Last October, workers damaged the wing flaps on Atlantis during routine testing. The bent and crushed parts had to be replaced.

Atlantis is scheduled to blast off no earlier than April 13 with supplies and replacement parts for the fledgling international space station.

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On the Net: NASA’s human space flight Web site: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/index-m.html

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