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Discovery liftoff postponed due to gas leak: NASA

The launch of the US space shuttle space shuttle, reusable U.S. space vehicle. Developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it consists of a winged orbiter, two solid-rocket boosters, and an external tank.  Discovery was postponed Wednesday just hours before liftoff after NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
 in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Independent U.S.
 engineers found a gas leak The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.

For other uses, see Leak (disambiguation).
 in the filling system for its external tank.

NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said the shuttle's mission towards the International Space Station, with a Japanese astronaut among its seven crew, was delayed for at least 24 hours after the leak of highly flammable hydrogen gas was discovered.

"The launch was scrubbed at 02:37 pm (1837 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) See UTC.

GMT - Universal Time 1
) for at least 24 hours ... so we won't launch tonight," Beutel said.

The leak was discovered after NASA engineers began filling the Discovery's external tank at noon (1600 GMT). The leak was found on the side of the tank, said another spokesman John Yembrick.

The last-minute hitch came after mission managers at the Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) U.S.

launch site for manned space missions. [U.S. Hist.: WB, So:562]

See : Astronautics
 in Cape Canaveral, Florida This article is about the city of Cape Canaveral, Florida. For the site neighboring the Kennedy Space Center, see Cape Canaveral.
Cape Canaveral is a city in Brevard County, Florida, United States. The population was 8,829 at the 2000 census.
, earlier said it was all go for the planned 9:20 pm (0120 Thursday GMT) launch.

The shuttle's crew arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday evening to prepare for their 14-day mission to deliver and install a fourth pair of solar panels to the International Space Station.

The panels are to supply power for onboard laboratories and more power for the station's crew, which will double from three to six in May.

Installing the panels, the final piece of a 100-billion-dollar project, is to take a two-astronaut team four space walks of more than six hours each to complete, NASA said.

The pairs of solar panels, containing 32,800 solar cells, are each 35 meters long once in place. And the final array, once in place, should boost power available to the ISS ISS

See Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).
 to 120 kilowatts from the current 90.

The launch, originally set for February 12, has now been delayed five times, the four previous postponements being due to problems with control valves, which channel gaseous hydrogen from the shuttle's three main engines.

Three of the valves were replaced with newer ones. NASA engineers said the delays were implemented as a precaution to test the valves, which had come under close scrutiny after a valve aboard space shuttle Endeavour was found to be damaged during its mission to the space station in November.

Discovery's astronauts include Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (宇宙航空研究開発機構  , who is to become the first Japanese station crew member.

After Discovery finally docks at the ISS, Wakata is to stay aboard the station, while US astronaut Sandy Magnus -- who arrived at the ISS aboard the shuttle Endeavour in November 2008 -- will return home.
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Mar 11, 2009
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