NEW YORK (
) -- The Discovery space shuttle is scheduled to launch at 4:50 p.m. EST Thursday, taking its final journey to the International Space Station after several months of delays due to bad weather and cracks in its fuel tank.
Six astronauts will be aboard the spacecraft as it embarks on an 11-day mission into space to deliver supplies and Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, to the space station.
Discovery, which is the world's most traveled rocket ship, was originally scheduled to launch on Nov.1, 2010, but a hydrogen leak and cracks in the shuttle's fuel tank caused a four-month delay.
At a meeting on Wednesday, senior NASA and contractor managers determined the shuttle, the station and the personnel were ready for the launch.
"Everything is on track and going beautifully with the countdown," NASA mission management team chair Mike Moses said in a statement. "We're really looking forward to a very action-packed, successful mission, and everything is on track."
Discovery's journey, officially named STS-133, is the first mission planned for 2011. It is also Discovery's 39th flight.
There are two more flights planned for 2011 before the shuttle program is retired. After the Endeavor shuttle launches in April and the Atlantis flies in June, NASA will suspend launching shuttles due to budget cuts.
Injured Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will board the space shuttle Endeavour on April 19 to join a two-week mission to the International Space Station.
Giffords is currently in recovery after she was shot on Jan. 8 outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz.
Kelly has said that
NASA's final flight, Atlantis, is scheduled for June 28.
--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.
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