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NASA Eyes New Launch Date For Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (AP) -- After an exhaustive set of fueling tests, shuttle managers today announced that engineers were able to determine the source of the fuel gauge failures to a faulty connector. The Space Shuttle Atlantis was grounded after two failed launch attempts in early December.

The connector, located at the bottom wall of the fuel tank, provides the conduit for the wiring that are routed from the fuel gauges to the shuttle. A replacement connector will be installed by the weekend. The repair work has already begun today, with the technicians splicing new wires at the connector interface. Follow up checks and environmental testing will be performed through the weekend to confirm the integrity of the new connector installation. After a two-month delay, NASA officials are optimistic that the repair work and testing through the weekend will allow for a scheduled February 7th launch of Atlantis. Liftoff of the Space Shuttle Atlantis' STS-122 mission to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center will be at 2:47PM on February 7th.

The primary mission of Atlantis is to rendezvous with the Space Station to install and activate the Columbus Laboratory sponsored by the European Space Agency.  Shuttle officials also expect a follow up mission in mid-March with the Space Shuttle Endeavor.  Endeavor will carry Kibo and Dextre to the Space Station.  Kibo is part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency laboratory.  Dextre is the Space Station's new robotics system developed by Canada.


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