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The Nation

February 26, 2011

Discovery arriving Saturday at space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Discovery is closing in on the International Space Station for the final time.

Discovery and its crew of six will pull up to the orbiting lab Saturday afternoon. They will spend at least a week there, unloading a compartment full of supplies and the first humanoid robot to fly in space.

Altogether, there will be 12 people aboard the linked spacecraft, representing the United States, Russia and Italy.

This is Discovery's final voyage. The shuttle is the first in the fleet to be retired this year. Endeavour and then Atlantis will close out the 30-year shuttle program by midsummer.

Before docking, Discovery will perform a backflip so space station cameras can capture any signs of launch damage.

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