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Leak May Delay Launch of Shuttle

Associated Press

NASA went ahead Saturday with preparations for the launch of the shuttle Discovery, while trying to resolve a leak that could delay the mission.

If repairs are needed, Discovery would have to be rolled back to its hangar, a move that would delay Thursday’s scheduled launch by about two weeks, space agency officials said.

The leak appears to be in a valve on a helium line, part of the plumbing of the steering system located in the orbiter’s aft end. A leak could overpressurize the system’s fuel tank and make it burst, a potentially catastrophic event.

The system will be pressurized and tested again early Monday, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration spokesman said.

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On the third day of the five-day flight, the astronauts are scheduled to release a $500-million Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite that will study the fragile ozone layer shielding Earth against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.


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