Discovery shuttle poised for final launch

nasa shuttle
Discovery, NASA's oldest and most journeyed space shuttle, is poised to launch on its final mission on Thursday, wrapping up a near three-decade legacy of orbital travel.
When the storied spacecraft lifts off at 4:50 pm (2150 GMT), it will mark the beginning of the end of the US space shuttle program, with Discovery, the first of the remaining three shuttles headed for retirement this year.
The closure of the US shuttle program will forge a gaping hole in the American space mission, and leaves astronauts to rely on the Russian Soyuz space capsule for transport to the orbiting International Space Station.
But concerns for the future were brushed aside as excitement mounted at Kennedy Space Center for Discovery's mission, with technical checks moving along smoothly and no hint of the fuel tank woes that delayed the launch in November.

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