NASA sets Feb. 7 launch date for Atlantis
Installation begins on new fuel connector
The space shuttle Atlantis is now expected to launch on Feb. 7, NASA announced Friday.
The launch, originally slated for Dec. 6, was scrubbed twice when fuel gauges in the shuttle's external tank failed.
The U.S. space agency began installing a new fuel connector on Friday and will test it over the weekend, officials said.
December testing into why the gauge failed revealed a malfunctioning fuel connector that links the gauge to the shuttle. The original connector is still being tested.
The agency has been troubled by fuel gauge problems since the shuttle program resumed after the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry in 2003.
Atlantis's STS-122 mission will deliver Columbus, the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory, to the International Space Station.
NASA also announced that the shuttle Endeavour will launch in mid-March. Endeavour will deliver Dextre, Canada's new robotics system, as well as part of a Japanese laboratory to the space station.
The Russian Federal Space Agency was scheduled to launch its Progress mission on Feb. 7, but agreed to move liftoff up to Feb. 5 so as to accommodate Atlantis.