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Image above: Space shuttle Discovery touches down at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, March 9, to end the STS-133 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls › Larger image
At 11:57 a.m. EST, Space shuttle Discovery landed for the final time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after 202 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,304,140 miles on STS-133. Discovery’s main gear touched down at 11:57:17 a.m. followed by the nose gear at 11:57:28 and wheels stop at 11:58:14 a.m. At wheels stop, the mission elapsed time was 12 days, 19 hours, four minutes and 50 seconds. STS-133 was the 39th and final flight for Discovery, which spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.
Image above: The crew of space shuttle Discovery's STS-133 mission, the final flight for NASA's oldest active shuttle. The astronauts are, from left, Mission Specialists Nicole Stott and Michael Barratt, Pilot Eric Boe, Commander Steve Lindsey and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen. Image credit: NASA TV › Larger image
During space shuttle Discovery's final spaceflight, the STS-133 crew members delivered important spare parts to the International Space Station along with the Express Logistics Carrier-4.
Steve 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 makes Bowen the first astronaut ever to fly on consecutive missions.
After flying a flawless mission in space, space shuttle Discovery and its six astronauts are getting ready for their return to Earth. Landing is scheduled for 11:57 a.m. EST at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Landing Day Highlights (All times EST)
Deorbit Prep begins
Payload Bay Doors Closing
Mission Control: “Go” for Ops 3 Transition
OMS Gimbal Check
Auxiliary Power Unit Prestart
MCC “Go-No Go” Decision for the Deorbit Burn
Maneuver to the Deorbit Burn Attitude
Merritt Island, Fla., tracking station Acquisition of Signal from Discovery
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery stands on the launch pad Thursday morning for liftoff. A crawler-transporter is carrying the shuttle stack. Photo credit: NASA TV › Larger image
Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to begin an 11-day mission to the International Space Station with a launch at 4:50 p.m. EST today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-133 mission is Discovery's final scheduled flight.
The six astronauts for the mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, or PMM, to the station. The PMM was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo and will provide additional storage for the station crew. Experiments in such fields as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology may be conducted inside the module.
Today's Countdown Highlights
Countdown enters a 2-hour, 30-minute built-in hold at the T-3 hour mark; fueling is complete and goes into stable replenish
Astronauts have a photo opportunity in crew quarters (not broadcast on NASA TV)
The Ascent Team of flight controllers is on console in Mission Control, Houston
NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
The astronauts conduct a weather briefing with Flight Director Richard Jones and the Ascent Team of flight controllers in Mission Control, Houston
The astronauts suit up for launch
Countdown resumes at the T-3 hour mark
The astronauts depart their crew quarters for Launch Pad 39-A
The astronauts arrive at Launch Pad 39-A and begin to board Discovery
Discovery’s hatch is closed and latched for launch
Countdown enters a 10-minute built-in hold at the T-20 minute mark
Countdown resumes at the T-20 minute mark
Countdown enters a 40-minute built-in hold at the T-9 minute mark; the MMT conducts its final poll for a “go-no go” for the launch of Discovery (This hold will be adjusted by about 5 additional minutes to become a 45-minute built-in hold designed to meet the preferred in-plane launch time of 4:50:19pm EST)
An interplanetary trip to Mars could take as little as 10 months, but returning would be virtually impossible -- making the voyage a form of self-imposed exile from Earth unlike anything else in human history.