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Leak Delays Launch of Atlas Rocket

August 29, 2004|Reuters

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — About 11,000 gallons of rocket fuel spilled during fueling of a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2 rocket on Saturday, forcing a one-day delay of the launch, company officials said.

The two-stage rocket carries a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. .

The Lockheed officials had no immediate explanation for why the super cold liquid oxygen spilled during fueling for the launch which was scheduled for 7:02 p.m. EDT.

The liquid oxygen, which evaporates on contact with the atmosphere, posed no lasting hazard.

The countdown continued until it was clear there was not enough fuel on hand to top off the tank.

"Looks like we're going to be a couple of thousand gallons short," Lockheed launch director Adrian Laffitte reported.

Launch was rescheduled for today at 6:57 p.m. EDT.

This was to be the 63rd and final flight of the Atlas 2 series of rockets.

The model is being superseded by the Atlas 5, a more versatile rocket that can be launched in light, medium or heavy payload configurations and was designed to be cheaper and easier to launch.

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