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Fuel line inspection delays Columbia launch
Posted: Mon, Jun 24, 2002, 8:22 PM ET (0022 GMT)
STS-107 patch (NASA) The launch of the space shuttle Columbia on a dedicated science mission will be delayed for at least a few weeks after shuttle managers decided Monday to inspect the orbiter for fuel line defects found in two other shuttles. NASA announced late Monday that the launch of Columbia on mission STS-107, which had been scheduled for July 19, will be delayed "a few weeks" to look for cracks in metallic flow liners in fuel lines in the orbiter. Recent inspections of Atlantis and Discovery found several such cracks, between 0.25 and 0.75 cm long, in their flow liners that were not previously spotted using standard visual inspections. Shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore called the problem "a very complex issue" that engineers are only beginning to understand. STS-107 is a dedicated research mission whose crew includes Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. NASA said that the effect of the investigation on other shuttle launches is undetermined, but the delay of STS-107 may have a "domino effect" pushing back the launches of missions scheduled later in the year, or changing the order the missions are launched.
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