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Lost Pin Suspected in Shuttle Fuel Leak

July 31, 1999|From Times Wire Reports

A loose pin shot out of one of space shuttle Columbia's engines moments before liftoff at Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week and probably caused the ship's hydrogen fuel leak, NASA said. The gold-plated 1-inch pin is the chief suspect, but the space agency was continuing its investigation to be certain nothing else was to blame, Bill Gerstenmaier, a senior shuttle manager, said. Columbia leaked hydrogen fuel all the way to orbit. A larger leak could have caused the damaged engine to shut down and forced NASA's first female commander to attempt an unprecedented emergency landing.

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