NASA: All systems go for shuttle Endeavour's July 11 launch

Tests show hydrogen leaks that derailed two launches have been fixed

Tests show that a hydrogen leak that derailed two launch attempts of the space shuttle Endeavour last month has been repaired, and the shuttle is now set to blast off July 11.

NASA announced today that a test fueling of the Endeavour's external tank revealed no hydrogen gas leaks. That means the repairs to the tank were successful and the launch should go as scheduled.

The first scheduled launch of the space shuttle, which was scheduled for June 13, was scrubbed hours before launch when a leak was detected in the hydrogen gas venting system outside the shuttle's external fuel tank. The second launch, which had been set for June 17, was aborted because of the same problem.

Endeavour's seven-person crew is on tap to conduct a 16-day mission to expand the Japanese laboratory housed on the International Space Station. NASA has called the operation one of its most technical missions yet, one that will call on the power of three separate robots.

The highly complex mission will include five spacewalks, the use of three robotic arms -- two working together and one that will "walk" across the outside of the space station.

To make sure the shuttle is ready for the third launch try, NASA engineers began working on the test fueling at 6:52 a.m. Eastern time today. During the three-hour test, controllers watched for leaks as liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen were poured into the massive tank.

"There were absolutely no leak indications whatsoever noted on the two leak detectors," said Launch Director Pete Nickolenko during a press conference today. "We'll continue to look at the data, and our next step is to move toward launch."

Liftoff is set for 7:39 p.m. Eastern time July 11.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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