NASA Gives 'Go' for Shuttle Launch on May 31

NASA senior managers completed a review Monday of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight and selected May 31 as the official launch date for the STS-124 mission. Commander Mark Kelly and his six crewmates are scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station at 5:02 p.m. EDT.

Discovery's 14-day flight will carry the largest payload so far to the station and includes three spacewalks. It is the second of three missions that will launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. The crew will install Kibo's large Japanese Pressurized Module and Kibo's robotic arm system. Discovery also will deliver new station crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who will end a three-month stay aboard the outpost.

Discovery's launch date was announced after the conclusion of Monday's Flight Readiness Review. During the meeting, top NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.

Commander Kelly will be joined on STS-124 by Pilot Ken Ham and Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Chamitoff and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. For more information about the STS-124 mission, including images and interviews with the crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

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