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Discovery touching down at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida today. AP Photo/John Raoux

NASA's Discovery lands safely after final space mission

The space agency’s most-travelled shuttle has landed in Florida after its crew carried out maintenance work on the International Space Station.

THE DISCOVERY SHUTTLE HAS landed safely at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after spending more than 12 days in space on its final mission.

The shuttle has flown 39 missions in the past 27 years, and had most recently travelled to the International Space Station, where its six-member crew carried out maintenance work alongside six ISS crew.

The crew installed a new storage compartment and transported a humanoid robot to the ISS – the first one in space. NASA plans to upgrade the two-limbed robot without ever bringing it back to Earth.

Two other ageing NASA shuttles are scheduled to carry out their final space journeys this year: the Endeavour and the Atlantis.

The Endeavour will be captained by Mark Kelly, the husband of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was seriously injured in an assassination  attempt in Arizona two months ago. That space mission is scheduled to take off in under six weeks.

Kelly’s brother Scott Kelly is the current station commander on board the ISS.

The Discovery will now be decommissioned and sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC for display.

[caption id="attachment_100249" align="alignnone" width="511" caption="Discovery is seen from the ISS as the two orbital spacecraft accomplish their relative separation on 7 March, 2011. (AP Photo/NASA)"][/caption]

- Includes reporting from the AP

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