CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A bent radiator hose in Atlantis' payload bay should not delay next week's space shuttle launch, NASA said Friday.
The problem is with just one of the shuttle's four braided metal radiator hoses that carry Freon to dispel heat generated by shuttle equipment.
A technician will use a long pole with a hook to guide the hose into its retraction box when the payload bay doors are closed Sunday night. If that goes well, as everyone expects, liftoff will remain on track for Thursday afternoon, said NASA spokeswoman Candrea Thomas.
Even if the bent hose breaks during the flight, Atlantis could manage with the others, officials said.
Atlantis was supposed to fly in December to the international space station, but was grounded by erratic fuel gauges. NASA made some changes and believe that problem is now corrected.
Atlantis will carry Europe's main contribution to the space station, the Columbus science lab.