Shuttle launch called off
Fuel sensor delays liftoff
By Thom Patterson
Wednesday, July 13, 2005; Posted: 1:46 p.m. EDT (17:46 GMT)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- NASA scrubbed the launch of the space shuttle Discovery on Wednesday because of a faulty fuel sensor.
It was unclear how long the problem would delay the launch, NASA officials said.
Earlier, weather had threatened Discovery's liftoff, the space shuttle program's first scheduled mission 2 1/2 years after the Columbia disaster.
Discovery's launch had been set for 3:51 p.m. ET.
The 13-day mission will mark the shuttle program's first since Columbia broke apart over Texas during re-entry to Earth in February 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
About 10 miles from the launch site along the Banana River, scores of shuttle watchers -- many wearing shorts and swimwear -- gathered in hopes of a liftoff.
"We'll never experience anything like this back home," Alan Luney said in an accent true to his Northern Ireland home. "We don't have anything at all like this. What we gave to the world was the Titanic, and we all know what happened there."
Many in the crowd sought shelter under umbrellas or had constructed makeshift tents from bedsheets.
Another spectator said she was attracted to the launch by a sense of history.
"I've heard it's going to be one of the last [shuttles] of this model," she said. "I thought it would be a great opportunity to come down here and watch it go off."
Earlier Wednesday, technicians finished fueling Discovery. Pumping a half-million gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel into the shuttle's giant orange exterior tank was delayed briefly while engineers worked on a ground support heater