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Space Shuttle Launch Delayed


The U.S. space agency NASA has postponed the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, to investigate possible damage to instrument panels from lightning strikes at the launch pad.

The shuttle had been scheduled to lift off Saturday on a 16-day mission to install a Japanese-built porch on the International Space Station. But NASA says the launch has been delayed at least until Sunday.

Weather forecasters had predicted that thunderstorms could interfere with Saturday's liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in the southeastern state of Florida.

Endeavour was to have headed into space last month, but was grounded by a hydrogen fuel leak. Officials believe they have resolved the problem that occurred with a hydrogen vent line on the launch pad.

Five spacewalks are planned during the 16-day mission to install the final component of a Japanese space module, known as Kibo, and to perform other tasks at the space station.

NASA is facing a September 2010 deadline to complete construction of the Japanese lab section before the shuttle fleet is retired. Eight shuttle flights are dedicated to that construction effort.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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