Shuttle launch delayed again

By Phil Plait | December 29, 2007 1:26 pm

NASA has decided to postpone the launch of Atlantis once more, due to work being done on the Engine Cutoff Sensors, which have been giving spurious results. The ECOs report on the amount of fuel left in the tank, and are designed to cut off the engines if the fuel runs too low.

The ECOs Hardware associated with the ECOs has been pulled out and is being worked on. NASA has not said when the Shuttle will launch again, or how this slip will affect the already overpacked schedule for the next few flights. We’ll find out soon.

As usual, Damaris has the inside scoop.


Comments (6)

  1. Better safe then sorry. Fact is they will eventually accomplish their goals… even if it’s in 2010 ūüėČ

  2. Remek

    No, the ECO sensors aren’t being touched – it’s the passthrough connector on the tank surface itself being removed, along with the external connector and a bit of its cable for controlled cryo testing. They believe under cryo temps when the tank is fuelled, the pins between the outer passthrough and the external connector are losing contact. Testing indications are the ECO sensors themselves are working properly.

    Accessing the ECO sensors or the internal harness would be a last resort because that means entering the tank itself, which means a rollback to VAB and de-stacking, causing an additional delay of 2-3 weeks at the minimum.

  3. Mc Atilla

    Aw, that’s a shame. But if you like putting people in space I’m sure those people appreciate that you take care of their safety.
    The experience of being one of the astronauts during this lead-up to launch must be a wild emotional roller coaster.


  4. Ah, I see, thanks Remek. I read an article somewhere that the ECOs themselves were pulled.

  5. Michael Lonergan

    It must also be an emotional roller coaster for Dan Tani, who recently lost his mother. He was scheduled to return home aboard Atlantis. I’m sure the crew appreciates the extra time taken to make sure they fly safely.

  6. It is indeed the external part of the feedthrough connector that has been pulled. I have some write-up on my blog, including an analogy that compares the current shuttle analysis with a situation we are all much more familiar with ūüėČ


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