Image: KU-band antenna
Boeing
The KU-band antenna can be seen in its deployed configuration just to the left of the cockpit in this artist's depiction of the space shuttle in orbit.
updated 8/14/2006 2:19:48 PM ET 2006-08-14T18:19:48

NASA engineers are looking at a possible problem with a key antenna aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, which is set for launch later this month to the international space station.

Engineers noticed that bolts holding the KU-band antenna box inside the shuttle’s cargo bay might not be the proper type.

Officials say it’s too early to know if the bolts are a problem — noting that Atlantis has flown many missions with the bolts “as-is.”

The concern is that the antenna could shake loose during liftoff, a potentially dangerous situation.

The KU-band antenna is used during shuttle missions to relay video, audio and data traffic between the spacecraft and NASA's satellite communications system.

Technicians are studying the antenna to see if a replacement operation would delay a launch planned for as early as Aug. 27. Mission managers are to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to review Atlantis’ readiness for its flight to the space station. Astronauts plan to deliver a truss segment and a set of power-generating solar panels for the half-finished outpost.

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