NASA delays launch of Atlantis

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NASA's space shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad on September 6.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

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Space Shuttle Orbiter Atlantis is one of the fleet of space shuttles belonging to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It was the fourth operational shuttle built. Following the destruction of Columbia, it is one of the three fully operational shuttles remaining in the fleet. The other two are Discovery and Endeavour. After it completes STS-125, the final Hubble Space Telescope service mission, Atlantis is scheduled to be the first shuttle retired from the fleet.

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Thursday, September 7, 2006

NASA has delayed the launch of space shuttle Atlantis due to a "fuel cell anomaly."

"We want to fly a good mission, we want to fly a safe mission, we want to have a successful mission," said Space Shuttle Program Manager, Wayne Hale.

"We put together a huge amount of data, but it's not complete yet. We have to put all the data on the table and look at it," said deputy manager of the Orbiter Project, Ed Mango. He also stated that "we'll need more time to understand what this signature really means." The issue has never before been seen on the space shuttles.

The issue with the fuel cell was discovered by officials when NASA was preparing to fill up Atlantis's fuel tank. One cell gave a low voltage reading, while two other cells gave readings that were too high. All three of the fuel cells must be working properly in order for Atlantis to lift-off successfully.

More tests will be done on Atlantis in the next 24-hours, but so far officials have not yet decided when Atlantis will launch. The next window for launching is on Friday September 8, 2006 at 11:41 a.m.. If Atlantis does not launch on Friday, officials will try for a launch date in October.

A meeting was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. this afternoon between NASA officials, but there is no word on the conclusion of that meeting.