Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NASA gives go-ahead for Discovery shuttle launch on May 31

WASHINGTON (AFP) — NASA on Monday gave the green light to launch the space shuttle Discovery on May 31 for a mission to the International Space Station, officials said.

The Discovery's 14-day mission will include three spacewalks and is to be the second of three missions on which astronauts will install components of the Japanese Kibo laboratory.

The launch is scheduled for 5:02 pm (2102 GMT) at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The crew plans to install a pressurized module and a robotic arm system on the Kibo, which will be the largest and final laboratory at the space station. The first installation was delivered in March.

The mission will also deliver a new member to the space station team -- Greg Chamitoff -- and bring back flight engineer Garrett Reisman who has been in space for three months.

"It's an extremely complicated mission, but the team is well prepared with many options and backup in case any problem come up," said William Gerstenmaier, associated administrator for space operations.

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