Technicians Swap Out Two Bolts on Atlantis, Launch Still on Schedule

Technicians on Sunday successfully swapped out two bolts securing a crucial communications antenna on space shuttle Atlantis because engineers thought they were too short.

The last-minute change-out wasn't expected to affect the schedule for Atlantis' planned launch next Sunday on a mission to resume construction on the international space station.

"Everything went well and we're good to go," NASA spokeswoman Tracy Young said.

The work began Friday evening and wrapped up Sunday afternoon. Technicians had to build scaffolding on top of a platform six stories above the ground in order to get in the shuttle's cargo bay and reach the KU-band antenna, which transmits images and other essential data between the space shuttle and Mission Control.

Atlantis has flown with those bolts without trouble since they were first installed two decades ago. The problem was discovered after Atlantis was rolled to the launch pad when a review of paperwork on bolts on NASA's three space shuttles was ordered because a related problem was found in Discovery.

Technicians found the bolts they changed out to be holding the antenna securely. "It was a precautionary measure," Young said.


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