Space shuttle Discovery sets of on her last mission

Shuttle Discovery sets out on last voyage

Space shuttle Discovery

Space shuttle Discovery lifts off from the Cape Canaveral. Photograph: Chris O'Meara/AP

The US shuttle Discovery has launched from the Kennedy Space Center for the last time. The orbiter roared into a bright blue Florida sky, leaving the pad at 1653 local time (2153 GMT).

Its 11-day mission will see it deliver a new store room and a sophisticated humanoid robot to the International Space Station (ISS). Only two further flights remain by Endeavour and Atlantis, which Nasa is trying to see concluded this year.

The orbiter fleet is then expected to retire to museums.

….. First launched in 1984, this is its 39th outing. When it lands back on Earth in nearly two weeks’ time it will have covered a cumulative career distance of 230 million km (143 million miles). That’s further than the distance from the Earth to the Sun (149 million km).

Once the shuttles are retired, the plan is for US astronauts to fly to the space station on Russian Soyuz rockets until perhaps the middle of the decade.


Space shuttle Discovery prepares for final mission

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