Friday, December 7, 2007

STS-122 launch status Update...

After the scrub of yesterday's launch attempt, space shuttle Atlantis will launch not earlier than Saturday, December, 8th 2007. However, even that date is under consideration.

The Rotating Service Structure is re-attached to Atlantis
The Rotating Service Structure is being reattached to Atlantis

As of the press briefing yesterday night, there were issues with two of the ECO sensors. This was known and expected. However, NASA also told that there were some anomalies with some other ECO sensors. So right now this looks like a much bigger issue than it originally appeared. I personally think the chance for a simple sensor error is weak - why then do we have these multiple failures? So the solution is probably somewhere in either electronics or their connection path to the sensors. And if that's the case it is questionable if it can be fixed at the pad.

In the press conference, it was stated that today should be a tanking test. However, the RSS has been re-attached to Atlantis and I have been told that no tanking test can be done with the RSS attached. Whatever they do, there is only very limited ability to repair systems within the 48 hour scrub window.

Consequently, also stated on the press conference, the Saturday launch will most probably only happen if NASA finds rationale to fly with two dead sensors. If these two sensors consistently behave wrong and the other two work well, there might be good reason to fly as is. In my personal opinion, though, this is not likely, because the other sensors also seem not to work consistently.

In short words: the guessing game is open. I do not expect any more solid information until after today's press conference, which is scheduled around 5pm ET.

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