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The Nation | IN BRIEF / WASHINGTON, D.C.

NASA Grounds Shuttles Over Fuel Line Cracks

June 26, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

Choosing safety over schedule, NASA has grounded the space shuttle fleet while engineers try to determine why tiny cracks are developing in the fuel line feeding the main rocket engines.

The announcement put a crimp in NASA's efforts to satisfy a tight schedule for building and supplying the international space station. Solving the problem could take weeks or more.

NASA engineers said they aren't even sure that the space shuttle problem is a threat to safety. They found minuscule cracks in the metal liner of fuel lines that carry supercold hydrogen to the main rocket engines. What caused the cracks and the extent of threat they represent are unanswered questions, a NASA spokesman said.

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