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US space shuttle launch delayed over hydrogen leak

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.  Endeavour's launch was delayed on Saturday following a hydrogen leak, postponing a mission to the International Space Station by at least four days.

The launch had been scheduled for 7:17 am (1117 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) See UTC.

GMT - Universal Time 1
) from Cape Canaveral Cape Canaveral (kənăv`ərəl), low, sandy promontory extending E into the Atlantic Ocean from a barrier island, E Fla., separated from Merritt Island by the Banana River, a lagoon; named (1963) Cape Kennedy in memory of President John  in Florida. Now the earliest opportunity for the shuttle's liftoff will be on June 17, officials said.

"What happens now? We work 2 a Wed launch while senior management meets to decide on the plan. My crew stays in quarantine at KSC KSC Kennedy Space Center
KSC Keene State College (New Hampshire)
KSC Kagoshima Space Center
KSC Karlsruher Sportclub (Karlsruhe, Germany)
KSC Korean Service Corps
 (Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) U.S.

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

See : Astronautics
) for now," the crew's commander, Mark Polansky, wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter A Web site and service that lets users send short text messages from their cellphones to a group of friends. Launched in 2006, Twitter ( was designed for people to broadcast their current activities and thoughts. .

The National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
 in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Independent U.S.
) said in a statement that the leak in a venting system was detected near the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, which is attached to the external tank at its intertank area.

The system is used to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"This is NOT a shuttle problem, but a pad one," Polansky stressed.

Shuttle managers have set a meeting for 2:00 pm Sunday (1800 GMT) to discuss the repair options and Endeavour's launch attempt opportunities.

It will now take the space agency 24 hours just to empty Endeavour's external tank, which contains two million liters of liquid hydrogen Liquid hydrogen is the liquid state of the element hydrogen. It is a common liquid rocket fuel for rocket applications. In the aerospace industry, its name is often abbreviated to LH2 or LH2.  and oxygen.

But officials said the new target date of June 17 may also present a conflict as NASA has scheduled for that day the launch of the Lunar crater observation and sensing satellite, which is due to lift off on top of an Atlas V This article is about the rocket. For the boat, see Atlas V (boat).

The Atlas V rocket is an expendable launch vehicle formerly built by Lockheed Martin and now built by the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance.
 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) is the East Coast space launch facility of the United States Department of Defense. Located on Cape Canaveral in the State of Florida, it depends on Patrick Air Force Base, home of the 45th Space Wing. CCAFS is adjacent to the John F. , Florida.

The leak was similar to one that occurred during the first launch attempt of the space shuttle Discovery in March.

But mission manager Mike Moses acknowledged that even now NASA did not know what had caused Discovery's leak in March.

"We did not really find anything, but obviously something is going on, the second time over three flights," he said.

In the future, the International Space Station where Endeavour is planning to go is set to be a temporary home to 13 astronauts -- the first time so many people have stayed on the orbiting station at once.

The six US astronauts and a Canadian female astronaut that Endeavour is expected to eventually bring to the ISS ISS

See Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).
 will join another US astronaut and one more from Canada, as well as two Russians, a Belgian and Japan's Koichi Wakata who are currently living on the ISS.

Mission specialist Tim Kopra is set to replace Wakata, who will return to Earth after a three-month stint at the orbiting space station.

Construction began on the ISS a decade ago, and the push is on to complete building before NASA ends its shuttle missions in September 2010.

Endeavour's crew are tasked with installing the final elements of the Japanese laboratory Kibo during their 16-day mission.

The station has become a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments after the installation of a European laboratory last year and the arrival of the high-tech Japanese lab currently being completed.

When Endeavour finally lifts off, it will be the 32nd mission to the ISS, which orbits 350 kilometers (220 miles) above Earth, and the last of three missions to assemble the Kibo laboratory.

Over the five planned spacewalks lasting some 32.5 hours, the astronauts will install a permanent 1.9-tonne platform to Kibo, which will serve as one of the station's porches for conducting experiments in space.

Endeavour will also deliver a large number of spare equipment, and bring up an unpressurized storage area for keeping the experiments that have been exposed to the extremes of space.

It will also carry another platform that can be detached from the space station and then flown back to Earth in the Endeavour's cargo hold.

NASA is seeking to make maximum use of its flights to the space station with only another seven planned after the Endeavour's trip and before the shuttles are retired.

Senior NASA official Bill Gerstenmaier has offered assurances that the space station can host up to 13 astronauts at once, after a fourth solar panel was erected along with other equipment including toilets, a kitchen and a machine to recycle urine into drinking water drinking water

supply of water available to animals for drinking supplied via nipples, in troughs, dams, ponds and larger natural water sources; an insufficient supply leads to dehydration; it can be the source of infection, e.g. leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or of poisoning, e.g.

But he acknowledged: "It's a very complex and challenging mission for the team."
Copyright 2009 AFP American Edition
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Publication:AFP American Edition
Date:Jun 13, 2009
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