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NASA scrubs Endeavour launch

Gaseous hydrogen venting glitch

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NASA scrubbed the planned launch of space shuttle Endeavour early on Saturday morning due to "a leak associated with the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside the external fuel tank".

The agency explained: "The system is used to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At 12:26 a.m. EDT [04:26 GMT] Saturday, managers officially scrubbed the launch for at least 96 hours."

The problem is "similar to what happened during the first launch attempt of space shuttle Discovery's STS-119 mission in March", when NASA spotted a leak "on the piping that runs from the fixed service structure, or launch tower, to a valve at the intertank section of the shuttle’s external tank".

Teams are today (Monday) carrying out a similar fix to that used with Discovery, and are "in the process of changing out internal seals in the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, which is attached to the external tank".

This means Endeavour will not set off on STS-127 mission to the International Space Station until at least 17 June, although that date poses a "range conflict" with the intended launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite from Cape Canaveral.

NASA explains: "If there are no issues with Endeavour’s repair work, the shuttle would attempt to launch on June 17 and LRO/LCROSS would have launch opportunities on June 19 and 20. If Endeavour doesn’t launch on June 17 and LRO/LCROSS launches on that day, the shuttle could make a launch attempt on June 20." ®

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