Shuttle launch delayed by fuel sensors

7th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

7th December 2007, Two of four fuel sensors failed to function on the shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank during fuelling, falling short of the stringent NASA safety requirements that three of four sensors operate properly, NASA officials said.

7th December 2007

Two of four fuel sensors failed to function on the shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank during fuelling, falling short of the stringent NASA safety requirements that three of four sensors operate properly, NASA officials said.

Fuel sensor problems have caused considerable launch delays since the retooling of troublesome tanks after the 2003 Columbia disaster.

NASA was draining the fuel from the tanks to inspect the problem.

The launch was originally rescheduled for Friday afternoon, but Franco Bonacina, spokesman for the European Space Agency, said in an evening press conference that the launch was now planned for Saturday at the earliest to allow time for more consultations.

The launch window extends to December 13. Once that period expires, January would be the next target window.

The crew on the journey to the station orbiting 400 kilometres above Earth include German astronaut Hans Schlegel, French astronaut Leopold Eyharts and five American astronauts.

The mission marks the beginning of a new chapter in international space flight that is to give Europe its first real foothold in space with the installation of the ESA laboratory. Space travel has been dominated by Russia and the United States for half a century.

The ESA lab, built mostly by EADS-Astrium in Bremen, Germany, was supposed to go into operation in 2004. But when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in February 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board, shuttle flights were suspended.

The 13-ton, 880-million-euro (1.3-billion-dollar) Columbus module has seven fixed racks that will accommodate experiments ranging from medical to material research - from the study of single-cell organisms and invertebrates to the basic physics of fluids.

The installation will take several spacewalks.

DPA

Subject: German news, space, Europe

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