Endeavour rollout planned for today at 8 p.m. EST

Space shuttle Endeavour's move from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A is planned for today at 8 p.m. EST. Managers will continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the day at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rollout was postponed Wednesday because of a storm front moving over the area today. The delay is not expected to interfere with Endeavour's targeted launch date of April 19 on the STS-134 mission.

The astronauts of STS-133, who landed at Kennedy yesterday to end the mission, are to leave for Houston this afternoon at 2 p.m. There, a welcome ceremony for the astronauts will be held at 5 p.m. EST, 4 p.m. CST, at Ellington Field, Hangar 276. The public is invited and gates will open 30 minutes prior to the event.


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STS-133 Crew Praises Discovery at Press Briefing

Before space shuttle Discovery's STS-133 crew members departed NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for their home base at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, they gathered in Kennedy's TV Auditorium to briefly answer questions from the media.

STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey was first to say, "It was a great day to come back and land in Florida, we're happy to bring Discovery home."

When asked how emotional the landing was, Lindsey said, "As hard as it was to leave the flight deck when we were all done -- at least for me it was -- we were really focused today on bringing it (the shuttle) home safe. We were really working hard the whole mission and didn't have a whole lot of time to reflect about that."

"I did notice when I was on the ramp and walking around afterward as the minutes passed I kind of got more and more sad looking at the vehicle and how healthy it is and wonderful it performed, not just on this flight but the other two flights that I flew on, as well as every other flight," Lindsey continued. "It kind of got sadder for me as the minutes rolled past."

Mission Specialist Steve Bowen, who replaced Tim Kopra on the mission after a bicycle accident kept him earthbound, said Kopra was with them not only in spirit but in constant contact via the Mission Control Center in Houston.

"He actually helped us through the EVA's (extravehicular activities, or spacewalks) from the ground, which I greatly appreciated," said Bowen. "Just having him in mission control to be able to question things and know that if I wasn't doing something quite right, he was going to step in and help me out."

The crew of Discovery's STS-133 mission, the final flight for NASA's oldest active shuttle, will be honored at a welcome ceremony tomorrow at Ellington Field near Houston.

Meanwhile, space shuttle Endeavour's move, or "rollout" to Launch Pad 39A has been delayed for at least 24 hours, due to predictions of unfavorable weather. Managers will meet Thursday morning to reassess weather conditions for the next rollout attempt.

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NASA Celebrates Discovery Landing with Eye on Future Flights

Reflection mixed with celebration today at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after space shuttle Discovery completed the last of its 39 missions into orbit with a flawless return to Earth and landing at Kennedy. Before people could get too nostalgic, though, Space Shuttle Program officials quickly noted that the agency is working toward two more shuttle missions with Endeavour and Atlantis.

"Spaceflight doesn't come easy," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations. "We need to stay focused, keep our heads down and recognize that this is not easy."

Discovery worked so well during its final orbital journey that the six-astronaut crew was given two extra days in space to help the residents of the International Space Station with a host of duties. Gerstenmaier said the work was critical to set up the station and its crew for research.

"I think (Discovery's) legacy will be the future," Gerstenmaier said.

Although Discovery will not go back into space, it will still offer scientific insight to future engineers, said Mike Moses, chairman of the Mission Management Team.

"The vehicle itself is a science platform," he said, adding that parts of Discovery will be pulled from the spacecraft and evaluated for wear.

The shuttle teams throughout NASA drew special praise for the longevity of the program and its successes, along with the workers' diligence.

"Discovery was in great shape and I view that as a testament to the team," Moses said. "It was really a triumph today for the entire Discovery team."

"We wanted to go out on a high note and Discovery's done that," said Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director. "We couldn't ask for more. It was virtually a perfect mission conducted by a perfect flight crew and a perfect ground crew. I couldn't be happier."

A post-landing crew news conference with space shuttle Discovery's six STS-133 astronauts is targeted to start at 5:45 p.m. EST on NASA TV (www.nasa.gov/ntv).

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Bolden, Lindsey Mark Discovery’s Successful Flight

About two hours after space shuttle Discovery's final return from space, the crew of the shuttle and NASA officials took a few moments on the runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to mark the spacecraft's accomplishments. Discovery spent a year in space during the course of its 39 missions, the first of which launched in August 1984. This shuttle carried NASA's Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and made both of the shuttle program's return-to-flight missions. Its roster of astronauts includes Charles Bolden, now administrator of the space agency.

"This is very bittersweet for all of us," Bolden said this afternoon. "Discovery holds a special place for me and for (Kennedy Space Center Director) Bob Cabana over here because we both had the opportunity to fly on it twice."

The shuttle enjoyed a flawless mission to the International Space Station that saw the astronauts deliver the last pressurized module to the orbiting laboratory, the Permanent Multipurpose Module. Robonaut 2, a groundbreaking humanoid robot, also made the trip into space with Discovery, remaining on the station to act as an assistant to the crews there. Discovery's crew also enjoyed perfect weather at Kennedy that allowed them to return to Earth on the first opportunity of the day.

"I am so glad we got to land here at Kennedy, the home of Discovery," STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey said. "My crew did a fantastic job, we accomplished every objective, plus a whole bunch more. As the minutes pass, I'm actually getting sadder and sadder about this being the last flight and I know all the folks involved with the shuttle program feel the same way."

The post-landing press conference is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. EST on NASA TV.

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Astronauts Take Walk Around Discovery

Commander Steve Lindsey led his crew of astronauts out for a walk beneath space shuttle Discovery this afternoon following ht successful completion of the STS-133 mission. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana were among the officials on hand to greet the shuttle's crew. Discovery just completed its last mission and is being prepared on the runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida so it can be towed to Orbiter Processing Facility-2.

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Discovery Lands for Final Time at 11:57 a.m. EST

At 11:57 a.m. EST, space shuttle Discovery landed for the final time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center after 202 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,304,140 miles on STS-133.

Discovery’s main gear touched down at 11:57:17 a.m. followed by the nose gear at 11:57:28 and wheels stop at 11:58:14 a.m. At wheels stop, the mission elapsed time was 12 days, 19 hours, four minutes and 50 seconds.

A post-landing news conference with managers at Kennedy is expected no earlier than 2 p.m. on NASA TV and http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. The participants will be Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, Mike Moses, space shuttle launch integration manager, and Mike Leinbach, space shuttle launch director.

STS-133 was the 39th and final flight for Discovery, which spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.

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Deorbit Burn Complete, Discovery Headed to Florida

Space shuttle Discovery has completed the deorbit burn, setting it on a course to return to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Entry interface, the point at which the shuttle begins entering the Earth’s atmosphere, will occur at 11:25 a.m. EST. Peak heating begins at 11:34 a.m., the first roll reversal to slow the spacecraft will take place at 11:38 a.m., and peak heating should end about 11:44 a.m.

Discovery will head to the northeast across the west coast of Florida near Sarasota and trigger dual sonic booms as it slows to subsonic speeds at about 11:53 a.m. Commander Steve Lindsey will align Discovery with Kennedy’s northwest to southeast runway 15 and touch down at 11:57:26 a.m.

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Discovery Given “Go” for Deorbit Burn

Mission Control Capcom Charlie Hobaugh gave space shuttle Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey a "go" for the deorbit burn. The shuttle’s two Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines will fire at 10:52 a.m. EST for two minutes, 31 seconds and slow Discovery by 188 miles per hour. Landing is expected at 11:57 a.m. at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, runway 15.

Weather is observed and forecast “go.”

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