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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery is illuminated by bright xenon lights on Launch Pad 39A after the rotating service structure was moved away. The structure provides weather protection and access to the shuttle while it awaits lift off on the pad. RSS "rollback," as it's called, began at 8:02 p.m. EST on Feb. 23 and wrapped up at 8:37 p.m.           Scheduled to lift off Feb. 24 at 4:50 p.m. EST, Discovery and its six-member crew will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the International Space Station. Discovery, which will fly its 39th mission, is scheduled to be retired following STS-133. This will be the 133rd Space Shuttle Program mission and the 35th shuttle voyage to the space station. For more information on the STS-133 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin KSC-2011-1589

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery is illuminated by bright xenon lights on Launch Pad 39A after the rotating service structure was moved away. The structure provides weather protection and access to the shuttle while it awaits lift off on the pad. RSS "rollback," as it's called, began at 8:02 p.m. EST on Feb. 23 and wrapped up at 8:37 p.m. Scheduled to lift off Feb. 24 at 4:50 p.m. EST, Discovery and its six-member crew will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the International Space Station. Discovery, which will fly its 39th mission, is scheduled to be retired following STS-133. This will be the 133rd Space Shuttle Program mission and the 35th shuttle voyage to the space station. For more information on the STS-133 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin KSC-2011-1589

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery is illuminated by bright xenon lights on Launch Pad 39A after the rotating service structure was moved away. The structure provides weather protection and access to the shuttle while it awaits lift off on the pad. RSS "rollback," as it's called, began at 8:02 p.m. EST on Feb. 23 and wrapped up at 8:37 p.m. Scheduled to lift off Feb. 24 at 4:50 p.m. EST, Discovery and its six-member crew will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the International Space Station. Discovery, which will fly its 39th mission, is scheduled to be retired following STS-133. This will be the 133rd Space Shuttle Program mission and the 35th shuttle voyage to the space station. For more information on the STS-133 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts133/. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.

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23/02/2011
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Kennedy Space Center, FL
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