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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 22:07 GMT
Atlantis launch set for next week
Atlantis (Nasa)
Atlantis was originally set for launch in early December
US space agency managers have given the go-ahead for the space shuttle to launch on Thursday of next week.

Atlantis has been dogged by an errant fuel sensor system, but Nasa is sure this is now fixed and has confirmed lift-off for 1945 GMT on 7 February.

One slight concern is a radiator hose that refuses to retract properly into its storage box when the orbiter's payload bay doors are closed.

However, engineers believe this to be a minor issue that can be easily solved.

Atlantis' mission is to deliver the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS).

The 12.8-tonne, 1.3bn euro ($1.8bn; 0.9bn) module is Europe's major contribution to the science endeavours of the outpost.

The lab will be used to carry out studies that would be impossible in the gravity experienced at the Earth's surface.

The laboratory will be installed by a joint US-European crew on Atlantis.

Infographic, BBC

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