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Shuttle Discovery carries out safety checks

RIA Novosti

02/06/2008 11:06 WASHINGTON, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - The Discovery crew have carried out a partial-wing inspection of the space shuttle to check for launch damage prior to docking with the International Space Station, a NASA spokesperson said.

The 14-day Discovery mission will deliver its heaviest payload to the ISS, the Japanese Pressurized Module (JPM), which is the second unit of the massive Kibo laboratory complex. Discovery will also deliver a pump and parts for the ISS toilet, which has been malfunctioning.

The Discovery, which blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Saturday, is also expected to carry out a back-flip to photograph the craft's belly as part of safety measures introduced following the 2003 Columbia tragedy, when seven astronauts died.

The shuttle was unable to conduct a meticulous inspection of its wings as its robotic arm and boom, used for the checks, was left on the ISS during the last shuttle mission to make room for the Japanese module.

The first Kibo unit, an experimental logistics module was delivered to the ISS by Endeavour in March.

Three spacewalks are also planned during the shuttle crew's nine-day stay on the ISS installing the JPM along with a remote manipulator system (RMS) comprising two robotic arms.

The STS-124 shuttle crew is commanded by Mark Kelly, 44, with Ken Ham serving as pilot. Mission specialists include Karen Nyberg, Ronald Garan, Michael Fossum and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

The seventh crew member Greg Chamitoff will replace Garrett Reisman, who has been on the ISS for three months.

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