Feeds

NASA aims for 2 Jan Atlantis launch

Further tests on pesky fuel tank sensors

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA will next week fill the fuel tanks of space shuttle Atlantis for a third time, in an attempt to resolve sensor glitches which have led to two aborted launches.

A first scheduled lift-off was last week cancelled due to the failure of two of the four sensors which monitor liquid hydrogen levels in the vessel's fuel tank. A second slated attempt on Sunday to get Atlantis into orbit fell victim to the same problem.

Of the first incident, NASA explained: "On Thursday morning, two of the four engine cutoff, or ECO, sensors inside the liquid hydrogen section of the tank failed a routine prelaunch check. Following the launch postponement, the tank's liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were drained.

"While the tank was being emptied, engineers monitored and collected data on the liquid hydrogen sensors that failed. During that process, another sensor gave a false reading, indicating that the tank was 'wet', when it was dry."

NASA's caution is based on the fact that faulty sensors could allow the shuttle's liquid hydrogen tanks to "run dry", potentially triggering a catastrophic explosion.

The remedial plan, according to Reuters, is to "splice jumper cables into about 100 feet of wiring that runs between fuel sensors in the shuttle's tank and the ship's engine compartment". These cables will be hooked up to instruments to monitor the electrical circuits, and hopefully locate the problem.

Programme manager Wayne Hale told reporters: "We think we have a high degree of confidence of pinpointing the location where we're having our problem."

If he's right, NASA has rescheduled Atlantis for a 2 January launch to carry the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory to the ISS. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.