Space shuttle Discovery blasts off for final time


25 Feb 2011

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The space shutle Discovery lifted off for the last time yesterday, with six astronauts, supplies, spare parts and a robot destined for the International Space Station.

Discovery blasted off at 4.53pm EST from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, after a three-minute delay. A range safety computer had experienced a glitch, which was quickly corrected.

The astronauts are expected to arrive at the space station on Saturday, 26 February, for a week-long mission.

This launch of Discovery is the 133rd in NASA’s 30-year-old shuttle programme. Two flights remain before the US retires the three-ship fleet later this year, due to high operational costs and to make funds available for the development of new vehicles capable of travelling beyond the space station’s orbit.

Discovery has made 39 of flights, including delivering the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.