NASA targets shuttle launch for Feb. 7
By Patrick Peterson, Florida Today
CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA is targeting Feb. 7 for shuttle Atlantis' launch to the International Space Station to deliver the European Columbus module.
About two months after the original launch attempt, the extra time is needed to correct faulty fuel-level readings likely caused by an electrical connector that passes through the wall of the external tank.
Waiting until at least Feb. 7 also would put the shuttle's arrival at the space station behind the docking of a Russian Progress cargo vehicle scheduled to launch the same day from Kazakhstan.
NASA officials stressed Thursday that the date is tentative.
"That date is now under evaluation," NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said. "There's not an official launch date yet."
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Columbus | Kazakhstan | International Space Station | Atlantis | James Hartsfield | Russian Progress
Today, technicians will install a new connector to replace the one thought to have caused intermittent readings from a low-fuel sensor.
NASA plans to proceed to launch without fueling the shuttle to test the performance of the replacement part.
"We're not scheduled to do a tanking test," NASA spokeswoman Candrea Thomas said. "That doesn't mean we can't do one later on."
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