Columbia fails

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The Independent Online
Computers that detected a faulty valve shut down the shuttle Columbia's engines three seconds before launch yesterday, halting a nine-day science mission being paid for by Germany, Reuter reports from Cape Canaveral. The launch director, Robert Sieck, said he would not know the severity of Columbia's problem until at least tomorrow. Repairs would take at least three weeks.

The German space agency is spending dollars 560m ( pounds 375m) on the mission, which is already running five years late, and is under political pressure to get it off the ground.