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NASA: No lightning damage to shuttle, fueling begins

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A File Photo of Space shuttle Endeavour

FLORIDA (PTI): Experts have discovered no damage to the space shuttle Endeavour or its electrical systems after a lightning storm postponed the launch to Sunday, NASA said.

"The technical team cleared the lightning event" that had struck near the Kennedy Space Center late Friday during a major electrical storm forcing yesterday's liftoff to be postponed by 24 hours," center spokesman Allard Beutel said.

Ahead of today's launch now scheduled for 7:13 pm (2313 GMT), NASA began filling Endeavour's external fuel tanks with liquid hydrogen and oxygen.

The slow-fill "tanking began at 9:48 (1348 GMT) and there is no technical issue to report," said NASA TV official commentator Sandra Thomas.

Earlier Sunday engineers completed their test of the shuttle's electronic systems, two days after at least 11 lightning strikes hit the space center, some within 600 meters (yards) of the launch pad.

NASA said it postponed yesterday's launch in order to complete a thorough evaluation of the shuttle's operating systems.

Mission chief Mike Moses said 38 items were successfully retested, and that particular attention was paid to "hazardous systems" on the shuttle including its solid rocket boosters to ensure they were not damaged by the powerful lightning strikes.

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