NASA postponed the Jan. 10 launch of the space shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to allow engineers to fix a failed engine-cutoff sensor that led the U.S. space agency to delay takeoff earlier this month.

A Dec. 9 launch was postponed after one of four engine- cutoff sensors in the hydrogen portion of the shuttle's external fuel tank failed. The sensors monitor the level of fuel in the tank and shut down the engines before the tank runs dry, which could destroy the spacecraft or prevent it from reaching orbit.

Mission managers met Thursday and decided to postpone the launch indefinitely while workers replace the external parts of a connector that carries signals from the sensors to the shuttle's computers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said on its Web site.

It's the third time that Atlantis's launch has been delayed due to failures of the engine-cutoff sensors. The shuttle is scheduled to take off on an 11-day mission that includes delivery of the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station.