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Endeavour launch scrubbed again

Hydrogen vent system not in such good shape

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NASA has scrubbed today's planned launch of space shuttle Endeavour - the second such knock-back due to a gaseous hydrogen leak and despite assurances yesterday that the vehicle was "in good shape" to go.

The Ground Umbilical Carrier Panel area on space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank.Pic: NASAThe agency canned the lift-off at 05:55 GMT after detecting an escape in at the "Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate" (in pic) - part of the system "used to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad" and at "the same location where a similar leak resulted in a launch scrub on June 13".

NASA reports: "Vent valve troubleshooting took place for about an hour before it became clear the problem could not be solved."

Deputy Space Shuttle Program Manager LeRoy Cain said: "We're going to step back and figure out what the problem is and go fix it. Once we get it fixed, and we're confident that we have a solution that's going to work and allow us to go fly safely, then we'll proceed forward."

NASA has had a lot of trouble with its hydrogen venting. Back in March, the same problem temporarily grounded Discovery's STS-119 mission to the ISS.

The latest set-back means Endeavour's STS-127 mission to the International Space Station will not get under way until 11 July at the earliest. ®

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