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BOLTS TIGHTENED ON FUEL LINE IN BID TO HALT SHUTTLE LEAK

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NASA workers tightened most of the 48 bolts on one of space shuttle Atlantis' fuel lines Friday, but the space agency won't know whether that fixed a hydrogen leak until a tanking test next week.

The shuttle's classified Defense Department mission is on hold until the problem is resolved.All the bolts checked out fine, said NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone. "Everything looked normal," she said.

Discovery, meanwhile, has joined the other two shuttles with problems.

One of 14 thrusters on Discovery's right orbital maneuvering system pad was dented when it fell off a work stand Thursday. A new $600,000 thruster, which weighs 20 pounds and is about the size of a football, will be installed.

The accident occurred during routine maintenance work, Malone said.

The replacement of the thruster will not jeopardize Discovery's scheduled launch with the sun-probing Ulysses satellite in October, Malone said. The damaged thruster was being returned to the manufacturer for repairs.

NASA officials believe that on Atlantis, hydrogen is escaping from a flange on the external tank side of a 17-inch-diameter valve. The valve is in a pipe that carries fuel from the tank to the main engines.

Technicians over-torqued 38 of the 48 bolts by 10 percent, Malone said. The remaining 10 already were over-torqued and so were not tightened, she said.

A pressurized helium test on the tank Thursday showed no evidence of any leaks, said Malone. The leaks were detected in late June and again last week when supercold liquid hydrogen was pumped into the tank. Earlier tests with room-temperature helium had failed to uncover any problems.

On shuttle Columbia, a hydrogen leak was detected during fueling for a May 30 launch attempt. The shuttle was returned to the hangar and received a 17-inch-diameter valve taken from the new shuttle Endeavour, under construction in California.