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Discovery off for its last final frontier

world Updated: Feb 25, 2011 10:49 IST

US space shuttle Discovery has lifted off on its final scheduled flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to deliver a storage room to the International Space Station (ISS).

According to NASA TV, the shuttle blasted off at 4.53 pm (2153 GMT) on Thursday.

"Good to be here", Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey radioed soon after the three main engines shut off and the external fuel tank was jettisoned.

After eight and a half minutes, Discovery reached orbit and was on its way to the station, Xinhua reported.

Discovery will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module to the station, a spare module that will provide additional storage for the station crew.

The mission will feature two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components. The Robonaut 2 (or R2), the first human like robot in space after flying on Discovery, will become a permanent resident of the station.

Discovery was supposed to lift off on November 1, 2010, but gas leaks, electrical problems and bad weather forced NASA to postpone its launch.

This is the 39th flight for Discovery, the first of the three surviving space shuttles to be retired this year. It has logged 230 million km since its first flight in 1984.