The launch of space shuttle Atlantis, delayed since Thursday and rescheduled for Sunday, has been officially cancelled. NASA announced the earliest launch date is 2 January 2008.
Of the four engine cutoff sensors, ECO sensor number three gave false readings. NASA's current Launch Commit Criteria require that all four sensors function properly. The sensor system is one of several that protect the shuttle's main engines by triggering their shut down if fuel runs unexpectedly low.
Atlantis' originally scheduled Thursday launch was delayed after two of the four ECO sensors in the shuttle's external fuel tank gave false readings.
Atlantis' main cargo will be the European Columbus space laboratory which will be installed during the mission. This is Europe's biggest single contribution to the International Space Station. The 4.5-metre diameter cylindrical module is equipped with flexible reseach facilities that offer extensive science capabilities. The Columbus Control Centre will be based at DLR's Oberpfaffenhofen facility, near Munich.