U.S. Discovery shuttle blasts off for last space trip

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U.S. shuttle Discovery has blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the International Space Station, NASA said on Friday.

U.S. shuttle Discovery has blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the International Space Station, NASA said on Friday, in the final flight for the spacecraft.

The shuttle was launched on Thursday at 22:53 GMT (0:53 Moscow time, February 25) and is currently on its way to the ISS after reaching its designated orbit.

"Good to be here," Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey was quoted by the agency as saying after three main engines were shut down and the external fuel tank was cast off.

The Discovery's 12-day STS-133 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) "will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and provide critical spare components to the International Space Station."

Following the STS-133 mission, Discovery will be the first of the shuttle fleet to retire.

The U.S. space agency says its shuttles are outdated and too expensive to maintain.

According to NASA, Discovery has flown 38 missions to date - more missions than any other shuttle - and made more than 5,600 trips around the Earth.

Russia's Soyuz and Progress spacecraft will take U.S. astronauts and cargoes to the space station after NASA stops launching its shuttles.

 

MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti)

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