Sunday, December 9, 2007
NASA have today announced that the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-122, which is a module delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS), will be delayed until January 2nd, 2008 at the earliest, after scrubbing today’s launch attempt, and an earlier attempt on December 6th.
The decision to scrub the launch attempt was made at 7:24 a.m. EST by shuttle program managers. The reason behind the scrubbing is to allow shuttle engineers to spend time diagnosing and fixing the erroneous readings presented to the crew and Mission Control by the intermittent malfunctioning of a critical engine cutoff sensor (ECO). While only one of the four sensors was malfunctioning, the current launch criteria for the mission state that all four ECOs must be functioning correctly in order to launch.
At a meeting held at 9 a.m., NASA’s Mission Management Team for STS-122 decided on a postponement until January 2nd at the very earliest. Atlantis is due to deliver the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory module to the ISS. Alan Thirkettle, ESA’s Space Station Program Manager, said, regarding the delay in launch: “In the big picture, it’s not a setback. [But] it is disappointing because we have 750 people over here.”