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Atlantis blast-off scheduled for Feb 7, 2008

16 January 2008

After a delay of two months, Atlantis and its STS-122 astronaut crew is ready for launch. In all probability, the launch will take place at 19:47 GMT on February 7, 2008. The 11-day mission is aimed at delivering the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station.

NASA is said to be aiming at a February 7 launch date, and also delaying another blast off to the middle of March 2008. The delay might happen because of ongoing work to replace an electrical connector on the orbiter's fuel tank.

It has been reported that the launch target will allow time to install and test the new connector and avoid schedule conflicts with other spacecraft that move toward the International Space Station.

Though originally scheduled for a December 2007 launch, the space mission got delayed by fuel sensor problems. It was later found that the problem was caused by a faulty electrical connector at the bottom of Atlantis' external tank. The connector reinstallation process is currently under progress.

Meanwhile, Endeavor, NASA’s mission originally scheduled for a February 14,2008 launch has been postponed to mid-March 2008. That mission, STS-123, will deliver a robotic arm addition and the first segment of Japan's Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station.

It is said that spacecraft Atlantis' STS-122 mission will mark the first of five scheduled shuttle flights slated for launch in 2008. A planned August mission, also aboard Atlantis, is aimed at overhauling the Hubble Space Telescope while a September 2008 flight of Endeavour will bring in fresh supplies to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile NASA’s shuttle Discovery is scheduled for an April 2008 launch to deliver second element of the station's Kibo lab.




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