Hail hits Shuttle

NASA last week rolled Space Shuttle Atlantis off its launch pad and back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a severe thunderstorm. During the storm, hailstones the size of golf balls dashed up to 2,000 divots in the Shuttle external propellant tank's foam insulation and caused minor surface damage to around 26 heat-shield tiles on the orbiter's left wing. Because of a scheduled Russian Soyuz spacecraft International Space Station (ISS) flight, Atlantis will now be launched in late April for its 11-day STS-117 ISS mission, which will install a truss segment, unfold a set of solar arrays and retract one array.

Qantas clearance

Airline Partners Australia's A$11 billion ($8.6 billion) takeover bid for Qantas passed its first regulatory test last week, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) declaring that the deal could go ahead. The ACCC says that it found a number of potential competitive issues, but none that would substantially lessen competition. Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board is expected to give its findings on the takeover bid to the government this week, while an Australian Senate committee is due to report back by 20 March.

Source: Flight International