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SHUTTLE RETURNING TO HANGAR FOR REPAIRS

Columbia will have to be rolled back to the hangar next week so NASA can repair a hydrogen leak, a move that leaves the shuttle's astronomy mission up in the air and disrupts the year's flight plans.

"Safety's the first priority, and we've got an item here which we absolutely have got to put to bed and we're going to do that," launch director Bob Sieck said Wednesday.The leak had forced NASA to scrub last week's launch of the shuttle with the $150 million Astro observatory.

On Wednesday, a test in which super-cold liquid hydrogen was pumped into Columbia's big external fuel tank confirmed the leak is in a tight cavity between two metal plates that connect the orbiter and the tank, Sieck said.