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NASA delaying space shuttle launch until at least Saturday

Problems with the shuttle's fuel cutoff sensor system lead the space agency to postpone launching Atlantis until at least Saturday.

For those of you who made plans to visit NASA's Kennedy Space Center today to see the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, you'd better hope you can keep your hotel room another day.

That's because the space agency announced this morning that it has decided to delay Atlantis' launch until at least Saturday because "of a problem with a fuel cutoff sensor system inside the shuttle's external fuel tank," according to a NASA press release.

NASA decided Friday to delay the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis due to a problem with the fuel cutoff sensor system. NASA

The shuttle program managers expect to have a meeting Friday afternoon at Kennedy Space Center to decide what they need to do to get liftoff tomorrow.

According to the release, "two of the four engine cutoff...sensors inside the liquid hydrogen section of the tank failed a routine prelaunch check."

In addition, other sensors also gave false readings, "indicating that the (fuel) tank was 'wet' when it was dry."

As of now, NASA said it is aiming for a launch that could happen as early as 12:43 p.m. EST Saturday. But given the importance of safety and of ensuring that the shuttle launch without problems, don't be surprised if there are additional delays.