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Discovery delivers critical cargo to space station

india Updated: Jul 08, 2006 00:03 IST

Discovery shuttle astronauts delivered a container full of much-needed clothes, food and research equipment to the International Space Station on Friday as NASA reviewed crucial images for the shuttle's future.

Mission specialists Lisa Nowak and Stephanie Wilson began their first full day inside the ISS by guiding the station's robotic arm to pull the Italian-made container from Discovery's payload and berth it to the ISS.

Discovery's seven astronauts docked to the orbiting outpost on Thursday, two days after blasting off from Florida on just the second shuttle flight since the Columbia accident that killed seven astronauts in February 203.

Nowak and Wilson attached the cylindrical-shaped Multi- Purpose Logistics Module, dubbed "Leonardo," to the ISS. The astronauts will transfer equipment and supplies to the ISS over the next few days.

In addition to food and clothes, the container holds a lab freezer to store scientific samples, a large incubator to study plant growth in space, and an oxygen generator system that will allow the ISS to accommodate six crew members.

The Discovery astronauts also brought two spacesuits for two spacewalks, with the first one scheduled on Saturday. NASA hopes to extend the mission by a day to conduct a third excursion.

One of Discovery's passengers, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany, will remain in the space station for a six-month mission after his colleagues leave in nine to 10 days.

Reiter's arrival brings the ISS back to a three-person crew for the first time since the Columbia tragedy. NASA is in race against time because it wants to complete the ISS before the 25-year-old shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

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