Yesterday NASA announced that it will delay launching the shuttle Atlantis until at least January 2nd. Atlantis was supposed to take off on Thursday, but one of its four fuel sensors started malfunctioning prior to the flight.
For now engineers are going to try to fix the problem while the shuttle in on the pad, but if they can’t figure out the error that way, they’ll have to move Atlantis to the hangar, which would cause further delays.
The good news, though, is that the agency says there’s still enough of a time cushion to keep its February launch, which includes parts of the Japanese Kibo module, on track.
For our PPX crowd, this news does indeed spell a halt on our SHUTL proposition. Payout will happen January 1st, but it’s clear NASA’s plan for four flights to the ISS this year was just slightly too ambitious.—Gregory Mone