A Final Discovery: Space Shuttle Gears Up For Last Mission Wednesday

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REUTERS/Scott Audette

The crew of the space shuttle Discovery

To infinity and beyond.

Houston we almost have lift off, as the crew of NASA’s oldest shuttle, Discovery, waits at the Kennedy Space Center in anticipation of Discovery‘s 39th and final flight on Wednesday.

The crew Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt, Tim Kopra, Alvin Drew, pilot Eric Boe and commander Steve Lindsey are in flying form and expressed sincere gratitude late last week to the teams at Kennedy Space Center who carried out  a speedy repair on two leaky seals that were found on Discovery’s fuel line. “They did a fantastic job getting the vehicle ready for us,” Lindsey said.

On its 11-day mission, Discovery will haul critical spare parts to the International Space Station, including a storage room and a humanoid robot to assist the crew of the orbiting laboratory. As the launch day looms the astronauts will remain in medical quarantine a standard precaution to prevent illness before the mission. (See TIMES Top 10 NASA Flubs.)

NASA is retiring the three of it’s most historical shuttles — Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour — and is now focused making way for a manned mission to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. With these plans in motion the reality of space tourism may only be light years away. (Check out  The 40th Anniversary of the Moon  Landing.)

The official countdown for Discovery‘s launch and NASA’s 133rd shuttle mission is now underway. May the force be with you Discovery. NewsFeed over and out.

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