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Discovery crew preps for Saturday landing

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The crew of space shuttle Discovery are today making final preparations for a scheduled landing tomorrow at Kennedy Space Center, following a successful mission STS-124 which saw delivery, attachment and activation of the Pressurized Module of the International Space Station's Kibo laboratory.

Doscovery's crewThe crew (pictured) will test the thrusters which position Discovery for re-entry, check the shuttle's control surfaces and prep the "recumbent seat" for mission specialist Garrett Reisman - replaced at the end of a three-month stint aboard the ISS by NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff.

Discovery arrived at the ISS on 2 June, and as well as the Kibo module, brought vital spares for the bothersome Russian ASU (Ассенизационно-Санитарная Установка, or "Waste Management System"). Much to the relief of the ISS's occupants, Oleg Kononenko was able to fix the space dunny by fitting a new pump.

The next space shuttle mission to the ISS is STS-126, scheduled to blast off on 10 November. Endeavour will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module.

Discovery will return to the outpost at the beginning of December on mission STS-119, bearing a fourth set of solar arrays and batteries.

The final components of Kibo - the Experiment Module Exposed Facility and Experiment Logistics Module Exposed Section will travel to the ISS aboard Endeavour in 2009 on mission STS-127.

Mission STS-125, meanwhile, slated for an 8 October lift-off, will see Atlantis rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope for a third and final servicing. ®

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