Nation/World

Space shuttle prepped for launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA fueled Discovery late Sunday for a pre-dawn launch to the International Space Station, one of the last few shuttle flights.

Discovery was scheduled to blast off at 6:21 a.m., nearly an hour before sunrise. The shuttle and its crew of seven will deliver spare parts and science experiments to the nearly completed space station.

Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 80 percent.

Only four shuttle flights remain. NASA plans to retire the fleet this fall.

Once that happens, the space station will rely exclusively on other countries’ vessels for crews and supplies. Three new residents arrived Sunday – one American and two Russians. They wished everyone a happy Easter after their Russian spacecraft docked.

Discovery’s mission will last nearly two weeks and coincide with the 29th anniversary of the first shuttle flight on April 12. Three days later, President Barack Obama will visit the Cape Canaveral area to outline his post-shuttle plans for NASA.



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