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NASA delays Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Shuttle managers today announced yet another delay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.  The earliest targeted liftoff date will not be until early in 2008.  After two consecutive delays caused by errant hydrogen fuel gauges in the Shuttle's external fuel tank on December 6th and December 9th, shuttle authorities postponed all launches until engineers are able to troubleshoot and resolve the problem.  The fuel gauges are critical components of the monitoring and backup safety system that are designed to prevent the three main engines from operating on an empty tank.  NASA officials indicated that a fueling test will be performed on Tuesday to try to pinpoint the source of the problem.  Officials are unclear if the source of the fault is the gauges themselves, or the 100 feet of circuitry that reside between the fuel tank and the Shuttle.  NASA officials hope that the launch can be scheduled during the first week of January.  However, a targeted date to launch will not be announced until engineers have more time to understand the source of the problem and how quickly they can provide a solution.

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