NASA: Shuttle's Kinked Hose to be Stowed for Launch

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 credit: NASA/George Shelton.)

NASAengineers have drawn up a plan to stow a kinked radiator hose aboard the shuttleAtlantis as the agency gears up for a Thursday launch toward the InternationalSpace Station (ISS).

Wielding aV-shaped pole, a shuttle technician will gently prod the bent hose back into acompartment inside Atlantis? payload bay, said NASA spokesperson Allard Beutelof the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

?In tests,it went really well,? Beutel told, adding that the fix is notexpected to impact Atlantis? planned Feb. 7 launch. ?They?ve been practicingthis since Wednesday.?

Shuttle workerswill perform the repair on Sunday, with the technician climbing inside Atlantis?60-foot (18-meter) payload bay at the start, then squeezing out of the cargohold before its shell-like doors are closed for launch. The shuttle?s payloadbay doors will be closed about 12 hours earlier than planned to allow extra cushionshould the repair run long, Beutel said.

Commandedby veteran shuttle flyer Stephen Frick, Atlantis? STS-122mission to the ISS has been delayed since early December due to glitcheswith fuel tank level sensors that have sincebeen resolved. The shuttle is scheduled to launch Thursday at 2:45 p.m. EST(1945 GMT) on an 11-day flight to ferry a new crewmember and the EuropeanSpace Agency?s Columbus laboratory to the orbiting space station.

Engineersdiscovered the kinked Freon hose, which is bent the wrong way, late Tuesdayafter finding a similar glitch on Atlantis? sister ship Discovery. The hose ispart of the shuttle?s cooling system and engineers were initially concerned that it mightdevelop a leak once in space.

Atlantis,however, has a backup cooling system that could be used should any leak occur,mission managers said late Wednesday. But aside from being misaligned, theradiator hose is currently undamaged and leak-free, they added.

Frick andhis crewmates are currently in quarantine at NASA?s Johnson Space Center in Houston to avoid catching any last-minute illnesses. They are scheduled toarrive at the agency?s KSC spaceport on Monday morning for final countdownpreparations.

?Right now,there is no effect to the overall timeline,? Beutel said of the hose repair.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.