NASA postpones launch of space shuttle Atlantis
NASA postponed the launch of space shuttle Atlantis by another day after discovering problems with a fuel cell.india Updated: Sep 06, 2006 14:23 IST
NASA postponed the launch of space shuttle Atlantis by another day after discovering problems with a fuel cell early on Wednesday.
Fuelling the shuttle never got under way before one of three cells providing electricity malfunctioned.
The space agency planned to further examine the problem and try again Thursday.
The shuttle, which is on a construction mission to the international space station, was already delayed by the Columbia shuttle accident, continued safety problems after Discovery's flight in 2005, a lightning strike in August and the threat of Tropical Storm Ernesto.
If Atlantis doesn't get in the air this week, the next chance probably won't come until late October.
The shuttle was to deliver a 35,000-pound (16,000 kilogram), $372 million (euro290 million) addition to the half-built international space station during an 11-day mission.
Four astronauts will take three spacewalks to resume construction on the orbiting lab, the first such work in three years after the Columbia disintegrated while returning to Earth.
This mission to deliver two girders crucial to the space station's continued expansion must be done before the final 14 shuttle flights.
The Russians plan to launch a Soyuz capsule on September 18 ferrying two new station crew members and the space station's first female tourist, Dallas-area entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari.
Officials with both space agencies wanted to avoid the shuttle and Soyuz meeting at the station, fearing a traffic jam.
Atlantis' mission will be the first since late 2002 to expand the space station. The last two flights were tests evaluating a redesign of the external fuel tank, whose falling foam was blamed for the Columbia accident.