The U.S. space agency says it will delay a planned repair mission to the Hubble space telescope because of a new malfunction of the orbiting observatory.

NASA said Monday that a data unit on the telescope failed completely, preventing the transmission of information from space.

The shuttle Atlantis had been scheduled for launch on October 14 on a Hubble repair mission. Now NASA says the mission will be postponed until next year to give engineers time to decide whether new hardware needs to go along on the mission.

Officials say the telescope is not in any danger, and that they are working to activate a backup system.

The Hubble telescope, which has revolutionized astronomers' understanding of the universe, has been in orbit about 600 kilometers above Earth since 1990. It uses precision optics and other instruments to send back images of the universe that cannot be equaled by ground-based telescopes. The telescope has been repaired four times.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.