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OVERHEATED FUEL PUMP HALTS SHUTTLE FLIGHT 1.9 SECONDS BEFORE LIFTOFF

SHARE OVERHEATED FUEL PUMP HALTS SHUTTLE FLIGHT 1.9 SECONDS BEFORE LIFTOFF

Space shuttle Endeavour's flight was aborted a perilous 1.9 seconds before launch Thursday after the main engines roared to life, then abruptly shut down.

NASA's countdown clock got all the way to zero when the launch was halted because a fuel pump apparently overheated. NASA said a computer automatically began shutting off the engines 1.9 seconds before the solid rocket boosters were to have ignited and the shuttle taken off.The six astronauts were strapped into their seats aboard the 2,000-ton shuttle for about an hour after the launch was aborted. It took ground crews that long to make sure everything at the pad was safe.

When the men finally emerged, their faces revealed various degrees of relief and disappointment. One gave a ground crew member a friendly pat on the arm.

"Sorry we didn't do it today," a voice from launch control told commander Michael Baker before he crawled out. "We'll give it another try another day."

At a briefing, Baker said he and his crew knew they weren't going anywhere when they saw red lights flash in the cockpit and felt the engines turn off.

"The crew's doing fine. I think everything went well," Baker said. "The systems did their job."

It was the fifth engine shutdown at the pad in 13 years of shuttle flights and the third since April 1993. But none had been so close to launch.

It was to have been the first space flight for two members of the all-man, all-American crew. A third astronaut - planetary scientist Thomas Jones, who flew on a similar Earth-monitoring mission in April - would have set a U.S. record for the shortest time between space flights. That chance was dashed.