Officials at Kennedy Space Center have elected to extend the postponement of the launch of space shuttle Atlantis from 24 hours to 48 hours, making the new launch day Dec. 8. The announcement came at 7:30 p.m. EST, Dec. 6, after spending the day troubleshooting the malfunctioning liquid hydrogen fuel tank sensors that delayed the launch of the shuttle.
“We took away the option to fly tomorrow because I felt very strongly that we need some more time, ” said LeRoy Cain, chair, Mission Management Team.
The Mission Management team will meet on Friday at 2 p.m. EST to assess the data collected from further tests on the shuttle’s fuel tanks. The team expects to announce the results of the testing at 5 p.m.
According to the announcement, the program will spend the next 48 hours working around the issues and to assess the risks of launching on Dec. 8 with the two sensor failures in place. The launch window for Saturday will officially open at 2:38 p.m. EST. Mission STS-122 marks the first time that two of the four sensors in the ship’s LH2 tanks have malfunctioned.
If the shuttle launches on Saturday, officials anticipate a 40 percent chance of KSC weather inhibiting the launch. If the launch were pushed back to Sunday the weather would only have a 30 percent chance to inhibit the launch.