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NASA to launch space shuttle Discovery on Thursday

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A file photo of Space Shuttle Discovery.

CAPE CANAVERAL (BNS): US space agency NASA will launch the Space shuttle Discovery from its Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday.

The Discovery will begin its 11-day mission to the International Space Station at 9:50 pm (GMT) on February 24th, NASA said.

NASA's top managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready before the launch.

The six astronauts for the mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the station. The flight will also deliver critical spare parts and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment.

The PMM was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo and will provide additional storage for the station crew. Experiments in such fields as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology may be conducted inside the module.

The PMM also carries Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space, which will become a permanent resident of the station.

Discovery's launch will occur six hours after the planned docking of the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 "Johannes Kepler" to the space station.

NASA has planned the first STS-133 for 2011.

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NASA  Discovery  ISS  
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