If the space shuttle Atlantis can't lift off Saturday, it has to go to the back of the line.
A Russian Soyuz capsule would have first crack at trying to reach the international space station. It's slated for liftoff on September 18th -- and the two spacecraft can't be at the space station at the same time. So, an Atlantis launch would have to wait until late September. And even then, NASA would have to waive a rule that says launches must be conducted in daylight so the spaceship can be photographed for signs of damage.
A faulty fuel tank sensor forced Friday's launch to be scrubbed -- and it's not the first time. Earlier this year, the launch of Discovery was delayed by almost two months so four hydrogen fuel tank sensors could be replaced. A similar problem briefly held up last summer's launch of Discovery on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster.
Saturday will mark the fifth attempt to launch Atlantis in recent days. The problems included a lightning bolt that struck the launch pad.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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