Atlantis to blast off on Februray 7 | world | Hindustan Times
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Atlantis to blast off on Februray 7

world Updated: Jan 13, 2008 03:13 IST

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NASA has announced that space shuttle Atlantis will carry Europe's Columbus laboratory to the ISS on February seven.

The new launch date is conditional on the rescheduling of a planned Russian cargo ship flight to the station on the same day, since both vessels can't dock at the same time.

It's not, however, dependent on solving the ongoing fuel sensor problems which caused launches to be cancelled on 6 and 9 December.

Lift off of Atlantis from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, will be at 2:47 pm local time. A decision by the Russian Federal Space Agency to move up its Progress launch from Februray 7 to Februray 5 enables both STS-122 and STS-123 to launch before the next Russian Soyuz mission in early April.

This allows astronauts assigned to the space station's Expedition to complete the tasks they have trained for, including support of the launch and docking of Jules Verne, the first European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle.

Targeting Februray 7 also allows time to complete modifications to the engine cutoff sensor system that postponed two shuttle launch attempts in December.

Atlantis' main objective during its STS-122 mission to the station is to install and activate the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory, which will provide scientists around the world the ability to conduct a variety of experiments in life, physical, and materials science, earth observation and solar physics.

Shuttle Endeavour's STS-123 mission will deliver Kibo, the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's laboratory module, and Dextre, Canada's new robotics system to the space station.