NASA engineers are beginning their examination of the fuel leak that stalled last week's launch of the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station.

Engineers are taking steps to remove and inspect the component where the leak was discovered on Discovery's huge orange external fuel tank. Early work to study a 20-inch (51-centimeter) crack in the fuel tank's foam insulation is also planned for this week, NASA officials said.

"Right now they're basically trying to gather as much information as possible before they start actually making repairs for any of the issues that we're working," NASA spokesman Allard Beutel told "It's not a matter of simply making the repairs. They want to know what caused this in the first place."