Friday, December 07, 2007

Earliest STS-122 Launch Now Sunday Afternoon

NASA is targeting the launch of space shuttle Atlantis no earlier than Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3:21 p.m. EST from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Shuttle program managers made the decision after a meeting Friday to review data on a problem with a fuel cutoff sensor system inside the shuttle and its external fuel tank.

Because of the length of the meeting, the managers agreed that targeting Sunday would allow the launch and management teams appropriate time to rest and prepare. The Mission Management Team will meet Saturday at 1 p.m. to decide whether to make a Sunday attempt. A news conference will be held after the meeting's conclusion.

Atlantis' scheduled launch Thursday was delayed after two ECO sensors gave false readings. A third sensor failed after the tank was drained of fuel. The fuel cutoff sensor system is one of several that protects the shuttle's main engines by triggering their shut down if fuel runs unexpectedly low.