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Discovery on its last trip home
Mon, 07 Mar 2011 19:18:47 GMT
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The space shuttle Discovery performs its fly around of the International Space Station after undocking in this image from NASA TV, March 7, 2011.
Space Shuttle Discovery has left the International Space Station (ISS) after delivering cargo and spare parts in its final mission to the 16-nation station.

The shuttle departed ISS on Monday after providing the crew with a new storage room, a prototype robot and supplies, Reuters reported.

"We're going to miss you but most of all, we're going to miss Discovery," station commander Scott Kelly told the crew during a farewell ceremony on Sunday.

Discovery carried a combination storage room-research module to the outpost, along with an outdoor platform to house large spare parts, equipment, supplies and science experiments.

The gear includes a humanoid robot, known as Robonaut 2, which will be set up in the US laboratory for a trial run. Built in collaboration with General Motors Corp, Robonaut 2 was created to test how large robots can work safely in close proximity with people.

The US shuttle's 39th and last flight was delayed for months due to a leak in a hydrogen vent line in November 2010 and a later unrelated problem with support beams inside the fuel tank.

A five-man, one-woman crew, including commander Steven Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe, spacewalkers Bowen and Alvin Drew, along with Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott, accompanied Discovery in its last space trip.

Discovery will be the first of the three NASA shuttles to be phased out this year as President Barack Obama and Congress have determined that the country's shuttle fleet should be retired.

Discovery is the oldest of the three surviving orbiters, with Endeavour and Atlantis awaiting their next flights in April and June 2011 respectively.

First launched in 1984, Discovery has completed 38 missions, travelling some 230 million kilometers (142.9 million miles) during its 26-year-service.

Endeavour will go on its final flight in April 2011 and Atlantis will end the US space project with a final cargo haul to the station over the summer.

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