NASA To Launch Space Shuttle Atlantis Sunday
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3:21 p.m. EST, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Shuttle program managers made the liftoff decision after three days of reviewing data on a problem with fuel sensors.
Atlantis' scheduled launch on Thursday was delayed after two of the four engine cutoff, or ECO, sensors in the shuttle's external fuel tank gave false readings. A third sensor failed after the tank was drained of fuel. The sensor system is one of several that protect the shuttle's three main engines by triggering their shut down if fuel runs unexpectedly low.
During a Mission Management Team meeting Saturday, NASA leaders decided to fuel the tank Sunday and monitor the status of the sensor system. If all four ECO sensors inside the liquid hydrogen section of the tank perform as expected, the countdown will proceed toward the planned liftoff. NASA Television coverage of the tank loading will start Sunday at 6 a.m., with launch coverage beginning at 10 a.m.
During Atlantis' 11-day mission to the International Space Station, the astronauts will install and activate the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory, which will expand the station's scientific research capabilities. Crew members for the STS-122 mission are Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter, mission specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love and European Space Agency astronauts Hans Schlegel from Germany and Leopold Eyharts from France.
For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
For more information about the STS-122 mission and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
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