Russian space agency certain Discovery launch will go ahead as planned

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Moscow, July 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Federal Space Agency believes the U.S. space shuttle Discovery has been thoroughly prepared for liftoff and the launch will go ahead as planned, agency spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko said Tuesday. The shuttle is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center at 10:39 a.m. ET today (6:39 p.m., Moscow time). Davidenko said flight controllers at Russia's Mission Control Center, outside Moscow, would be monitoring Discovery's flight along with their counterparts in Houston, Texas.

The International Space Station's current expedition commander, Sergei Krikalev, and flight engineer John Phillips are ready to dock with Discovery, he said.

Russian Space Agency President Anatoli Perminov said the Discovery launch was equally important to the United States, Russia, and all other sides involved in the wide-scale ISS project. He wished Discovery's crew best of luck with their 12-day mission.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grounded all manned flights after Columbia disintegrated on reentry February 1, 2003, killing all the seven astronauts on board. Since then crews and cargoes have had to be delivered to the ISS by Russia's piloted spacecraft, Soyuz/Progress.

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