Atlantis Set to Launch Today Despite Flaws

Shuttle to lift off with stricter rules in controversial decision
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2007 5:15 AM CST
Liquid oxygen tankers line up along pad 39A ready to service the orbiter at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Friday Dec. 7, 2007. NASA managers are planning a possible launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis Saturday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – With tighter safety guidelines in place, NASA plans to go forward this afternoon with the launch of the Atlantis, although the problem of the shuttle's faulty fuel sensors remains unresolved. Following three days of debate, NASA engineers agreed unanimously that the shuttle could launch safely, though the decision has sparked controversy, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Today's launch will proceed only if all four of the fuel sensors—only two of which functioned at Thursday's abortive launch—are working properly. Engineers can't fix faulty fuel sensors inside the shuttle's tank and are uncertain why the problem occurred. The normal 10-minute launch window has been tightened to one minute. "We'll see what we get," said a NASA official. "If we meet our criteria, we'll fly, and if we don't, we'll scrub."