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26 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. space agency NASA plans to launch the space shuttle "Discovery" today after a delay on 13 July due to a flaw with a fuel sensor.

If successful, today's launch will mark NASA's first flight of a shuttle since the "Columbia" exploded while returning to Earth on 1 February 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board.

The tragedy was blamed on a small piece of insulation that broke off just after liftoff and struck the orbiter's left wing, causing a crack that allowed hot gases to penetrate the structure as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.

A crew of five men and two women are scheduled to fly on "Discovery" to the International Space Station for a 12-day mission primarily to test and evaluate new safety procedures.

(Reuters/AFP/NASA)

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