Sunday, March 15, 2009

NASA to attempt space shuttle launch today

Updated at: 1155 PST, Sunday, March 15, 2009

WASHINGTON: The US space agency will break with protocol and try to launch the space shuttle Discovery on Sunday even though it has yet to uncover the cause of a hydrogen leak that earlier delayed its mission, officials said.

On Saturday, NASA scheduled Discovery and its crew of seven, including a Japanese astronaut, for a blast-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station (ISS) at 7:43 pm (2343 GMT) Sunday, with a 10-minute launch window.

"From a broad safety perspective we are fine. We feel good about it," shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach told a press conference. He said that equipment replacement work was about three hours behind schedule but would not delay the launch, and that leak checks would be performed later Saturday.

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