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NASA Orders Cabin Leak Fix for Shuttle Endeavour

Orbiter Overhaul: NASA's New, Improved Space Shuttle Endeavour
The dawn sky over the Atlantic Ocean reveals Space Shuttle Endeavour sitting on Launch Pad 39A after rollout as it is prepared for a planned August 2007 launch after a major overhaul. (Image credit: NASA/George Shelton.)

NASA?s shuttleEndeavour remains on track for its planned launch next week after engineerspinned down the source of a leak inside the orbiter?s crew cabin, the spaceagency said Wednesday.

Shuttleworkers had been tracing the elusiveleak since the weekend as they readied Endeavour for its planned Aug. 7launch from Pad 39A at NASA?s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral,Florida.

?Theproblem has been traced to one of two positive pressure relief valves whichassure that the crew cabin does not become over-pressurized,? said GeorgeDiller, a NASA spokesperson at KSC, in a status update.

Engineerswill swap out the faulty valve with a working one taken from Endeavour?s sistership Atlantis during a fix that is expected to be complete by Thursday.

?There isno impact to the space shuttle?s Aug. 7 launch date,? Diller said of therepair.

Missionmanagers also opted not to replace thermostats in one of Endeavour?s auxiliarypower units found to be returning off-nominal signals, NASA officials said. Theglitch is not violating operational specifications and is understood byengineers, they added.

Endeavour?sseven STS-118 astronauts are due to arrive at the launch site Friday, with the plannedspace shot?s countdown set to begin at 9:00 p.m. EDT (0100 Aug. 5 GMT). Commandedby veteran shuttle flyer Scott Kelly, Endeavour?s STS-118 mission will delivera fresh load of cargo, spare parts and a new piece of starboard-side truss tothe International Space Station.

Theup-to-14 day mission will also mark the first flight for educatorastronaut Barbara Morgan, an Idaho schoolteacher who first began astronauttraining in 1985 as the backup for high school teacher Christa McAuliffe duringNASA?s Teacher in Space Program. McAuliffe and six NASA astronauts later died inJanuary 1986 when their spaceshuttle Challenger broke apart just after launch.

Endeavour?sSTS-118 mission will mark NASA?s second of up to four shuttle flights plannedfor this year.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.