CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Leaking fuel at the pad forced NASA to call off Thursday's planned launch of space shuttle Atlantis on a space station construction mission.
Officials said the leak occurred in a vent line outside the shuttle, at the base of the launch platform. The fuel could be seen, in a NASA videotape, streaming out in large, white clouds of gas and dissipating into the air.
The super-cold hydrogen fuel escaped from a pipe that appeared to have broken or come loose at a fitting.
No one was right at the pad because the fueling operation is hazardous, but sensors detected the escaping fuel, said Jack King, a spokesman for shuttle contractor United Space Alliance. NASA immediately halted the fueling, about an hour after it had begun.
"It's going to take some time to assess this," King said.
NASA could try again to launch Atlantis as early as Friday afternoon, if repairs can be made in time.
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