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Wednesday
Mar092011

Space Shuttle Discovery Heading Back to Earth

NASA(HOUSTON) -- Space shuttle Discovery's final flight is about to reach its conclusion.

On Wednesday, the shuttle with the most missions of any other craft in the fleet is due to arrive back at Florida's Kennedy Space Center just before noon.  Once Discovery lands, it will eventually head to a museum.

Before leaving the International Space Station Tuesday, astronauts declared the shuttle was fit for return after finding no problems with the heat shield.

Discovery's final mission was actually extended from 11 days to 13 so that the Discovery crew could make some needed repairs and provide an extra room on the ISS.

Back on Earth, NASA's pre-flight mission management team chairman, LeRoy Cain, praised the crew, saying, "The entire space shuttle system just performed outstanding on this entire mission."

Discovery has flown the equivalent of 365 days during its 27-year career, spanning some 150 million miles.

Space shuttle Endeavour is due to launch on April 19, while Atlantis will fly the last shuttle mission on June 28.  From that point on, astronauts who want to go to and from the ISS will need to ride Russia's Soyuz space capsules.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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