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Discovery cleared for Feb. 24 launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- After a meeting of senior officials in Florida, NASA announced Friday it has cleared the space shuttle Discovery for a Feb. 24 launch.

Shuttle managers made the decision during a Flight Readiness Review of the current state of Discovery, the International Space Station and the astronauts who will crew the orbiter on its final flight, SPACE.com reported.

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NASA has set the launch time for 4:50 p.m. EST on the same day the European Space Agency's unmanned ATV-2 cargo ship is scheduled to arrive and dock at the space station.

Discovery's 11-day mission, already delayed for months with fuel-tank problems, will deliver a humanoid robot and a new storage room to the ISS and will be the orbiter's final flight before it is retired, along with the two other shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour, later this year.

At that point NASA will rely on unmanned European, Russian and Japanese spacecraft to deliver cargo to the space station until American-built commercial spacecraft become available.

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