NASA Delays Shuttle Fuel Sensor Repair Decision

NASA Delays Shuttle Launch to January After Fuel Sensor Glitch
In the late afternoon shadows, space shuttle Atlantis is still poised on the pad after its launch on mission STS-122 was postponed on Dec. 6, 2007.
(Image: © NASA/George Shelton.)

CAPE CANAVERAL - Needingmore time to study data, NASA is putting off a decision about how best torepair a faulty fuel sensor system in shuttle Atlantis until after Christmas.

The move could once againpush back a launch to the International Space Station targeted for noearlier than Jan. 10.

The space agency alsohalted the assembly of components for the following space shuttle mission,currently set for Feb. 14. Delaying January's flight, however, will affect theschedule for subsequent missions.

NASA managers said theyneed more time to analyze data from a Tuesdaytanking test that pinpointed faulty through-tank connectors as the cause ofintermittent low-fuel sensor readings that scrubbedtwo launch attempts earlier this month.

"It told them allkinds of things," NASA spokesman George Diller said.

NASA managers hope toauthorize a repair plan at a Dec. 27 meeting, Diller said.

On Wednesday, shuttletechnicians were told to remove foam around the connector.

"Some foam is going tohave to come off if they're going to get to those connectors," Dillersaid.

NASA managers put on holdthe planned connection of two solid rocket boosters and an external tank forEndeavour's planned mission in February. That will allow more access to thesensor connectors if repairs on that tank are necessary too.

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