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Space shuttle Discovery launch could be delayed due to leaks

Leaky valves could delay the launch of Space shuttle Discovery next month.

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Space shuttle Discovery arrives at pad 39A for launch preparations after a six hour journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, March 3, 2010. The launch of Discovery -- targeted for launch April 5 -- might be delayed due to leaky valves.

John Raoux/AP

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Space shuttle Discovery has some leaky valves that could delay its launch next month.

NASA discovered the helium leaks over the weekend. The valves are part of a control system used to maneuver the shuttle in orbit and for re-entry.

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NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Monday that engineers will conduct additional tests later this week, to see if they can live with the problem.

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If any valves need to be replaced, Discovery would have to be moved from the pad back into the Vehicle Assembly Building. That would result in a lengthy delay.

For now, Discovery is scheduled to blast off April 5 on a two-week supply mission to the International Space Station. Only four shuttle missions remain.