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Space shuttle Discovery makes final voyage home

After more than three decades of service, NASA’s space shuttle Discovery is completing its final mission.

Image released by NASA, all twelve Discovery and International Space Station crew members .
Image released by NASA, all twelve Discovery and International Space Station crew members .
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE SPACE SHUTTLE Discovery is set for its last ever landing after 30 years of faithful service.

Discovery’s six-strong crew met for an official farewell ceremony on the International Space Station yesterday, ahead of Discovery departing for its 39th and final flight today. “We’re going to miss you but most of all, we’re going to miss Discovery,” station commander Scott Kelly told the crew during the ceremony.

The shuttle is expected to reach the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida this Wednesday, Reuters reports.

In honour of the final voyage, the crew’s usual wake-up music was replaced with recorded message by Star Trek’s William Shatner, reports the Press Association:

“Space … the final frontier,” Shatner said, as the theme music from the television show swelled in the background. “These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: to seek out new science, to build new outposts, to bring nations together on the final frontier, to boldly go and do what no spacecraft has done before.”

NASA has decided to retire Discovery because of high operating costs as well as to develop spacecraft that can fly beyond the 220-mile-high orbit of the space station.

NASA’s two other operational orbiters, Atlantis and Endeavour, are due to be retired in April and June.

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