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Gas leak prevents launch of Endeavour

NASA canceled plans to launch space shuttle Endeavour on a construction mission to the International Space Station yesterday due to a hydrogen leak.

The leak was found as technicians neared completion of the loading of 1.9 million liters of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the shuttle's fuel tank for a launch attempt at 7:17pm.

"There's no way we could have continued," said NASA launch director Mike Leinbach. "Hydrogen is a very volatile commodity."

The problem is similar to a hydrogen leak that occurred while shuttle Discovery was being prepared for launch in March. NASA discovered a problem with a line that vents gaseous hydrogen from the fuel tank.

Technicians replaced the faulty equipment and the shuttle was successfully launched four days later.

NASA hopes Endeavour can be launched on Wednesday.


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