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Last Hurrah: Discovery Begins Final Space Flight

Shuttle
Credit: NASA TV

February 24, 2011 — The final flight of space shuttle Discovery lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 3:53 p.m. CST Thursday to deliver a new module and critical supplies to the International Space Station. The STS-133 mission is delivering the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), named Leonardo. The module can support microgravity experiments in areas such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology. Inside the PMM is Robonaut 2, a dextrous robot that will become a permanent resident of the station.

Discovery also is carrying critical spare components to the space station and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment.

"With Discovery's mission, the United States once again reaches for new heights, pushes the boundaries of human achievement and contributes to our long-term future in space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Discovery's crew - including the first-ever dexterous robot crew member, Robonaut 2 - will continue America's leadership in human and robotic spaceflight, and support important scientific and technical research aboard the space station."

STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey is commanding the flight. He is joined on the mission by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. Bowen replaced Tim Kopra as mission specialist 2 following a bicycle injury on Jan. 15 that prohibited Kopra from supporting the launch window. Bowen last flew on Atlantis in May 2010 as part of the STS-132 crew. Flying on the STS-133 mission will make Bowen the first astronaut ever to fly on consecutive missions.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 1:16 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. The mission's two spacewalks will focus on outfitting the station and storing spare components outside the complex.

After completing the 11-day flight, the shuttle's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 11:44 p.m. on Monday, March 7. STS-133 is the 133rd shuttle flight, the 39th flight for Discovery and the 35th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. NASA's web coverage of STS-133 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos.

Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle website at: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

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