back to article Space shuttle launch knocked back again

Pesky fuel sensors have forced NASA to put back the launch of space shuttle Atlantis beyond the current target date of 10 January, Reuters reports. The offending sensors - which monitor liquid hydrogen levels in the vessel's fuel tank - have twice caused cancelled lift-offs. Of the first incident in early December, NASA …


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  1. Iain


    "simply dispense with the connector altogether and solder the wires in place"

    If I took my car to be serviced and my mechanic said that to me I would not be very happy, and that's just on a motor car, top speed 140mph. I would not like to be one of the poor astronauts who have to hope the solder will hold when traveling at 17,321mph (approx).

    Why not go the whole hog and just use a bit of gaffer tape?

  2. leslie


    speed irrelevant, more connectors, more problems, its in all industry, 9 times out of ten just twisting the damn wires together is more reliable than a $50 engineered connector....

    If connectors were so simple to design/fix/repair, why do ford taillights never work in wet countries....... (ask any UK fiesta/escort/sierra/orion owner)

  3. G2


    in this case it's simple: the tank is single-use only, so they don't mind it, as it won't have to be serviced after use, it will burn up on reentry.

    Is your car designed for a single use only ?

    /me grabs coat.

  4. Robert Moore

    Atlantis will be put back by "a few days to a few weeks"

    Funny, I replaced a faulty fuel snssor in my car a few weeks ago, and it took about 20 minutes.

    NASA will take a few weeks to do the same job? Must be nice to work for the US government. :)

  5. MD Rackham

    #@*%! Lucas Electrics

    1970's lowest bidder is all I'm saying.

  6. Morely Dotes

    And it's still the same problem

    Challenger - destroyed by the strap-on rocket boosters, which would not have existed if the original lower stage of the Shuttle had been developed.

    Columbia - destroyed by damage inflicted by the external fuel tank - which would not have existed if the original lower stage of the Shuttle had been developed.

    Atlantis - launch delayed by the external fuel tank - which would not have existed if the original lower stage of the Shuttle had been developed.

    Am I the only person who can see a common theme here?

  7. miika


    Yes, you have a possibly unhealthy fixation on the shuttle having a well developed lower end?

    *already has her coat and a bike standing by*

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    I would MUCH rather depend on even an 'average' soldered joint than any kind of mechanical connector you can come up with.

    What's more, a well soldered joint would be far less prone to mechanical shock/vibration failure, moisture or contaminant failures etc.

  9. Matt Bucknall


    Hmm, connection via friction vs molecular bond, I wonder which is more reliable?

  10. andrew mulcock

    connectors cost ?

    Call this what you want, but why have connectors in such a place ?

    It costs how many thousands to fuel up and then de fuel the shuttle tanks, all for the sake of a sensor connector.

    Solder all of them in, lets face it, the fuel tank is chucked into the sea after use, so no need to change things often !

  11. Tuomo Stauffer


    Now, if I can get an oil rig quality welder I might trust the connection but those people don't come cheap. Don't they use Monster cables? NASA probably doesn't. Just a joke, there are ways to make connectors very reliable and very secure but on what cost? Yes, the cost would be a very small part of the whole project but you know the bean counters! Save a penny here, waste a million (or 500 and a couple of lives) there is no concern of them!

  12. Chris Cook


    I should probably point out that the vast majority of connectors are soldered, crimped or grub-screwed to the cable anyway (I can't think of any that are not). The only reason to put a connector at a join is if it ever needs to be disconnected or connected at a later date by someone without knowledge of which wire does what.

    The real issue isn't the electrical connection itself, but reducing the physical stress on the cable by supporting it adequately. There are many industrial connectors available that will remain mated long after the cable itself has broken.

  13. stuart meadowcroft

    What's the point?

    Am I the only one who can see this another way?

    You put the fuel in? Check

    Is it pissing out the bottom? negative

    Right - blast off!!

    It's not like you can stop and refuel half-way into orbit, so why need to know what your fuel level is?

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