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Rogue Atlantis knob removed by hand

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NASA technicians have successfully removed the rogue knob which had wedged itself between a window and the dashboard of space shuttle Atlantis.

A slight pressurisation of Atlantis and repeated applications of dry ice failed to dislodge the "quick shoe mount knob from a crew work lamp". In the end, NASA gave the go-ahead to "use hand pressure to manipulate it loose".

NASA will now evaluate the damaged caused by the knob to the window's inner pressure pane. If it has to be replaced - and NASA does have a spare in stock - the agency estimates Atlantis will be off the launch manifest for up to six months, and certainly not available for its 12 November STS-129 mission to the International Space Station.

NASA is now doing some "contingency planning" to hand the mission to Discovery. This in turn causes a few problems because an extra Discovery flight would breach its "eight flight Orbiter Maintenance Down Period limit" - at the end of which the vehicle must stand down for mandatory maintenance.

There's more on NASA's ISS launch manifest woes and the knob-removal drama here. ®

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