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Saturday, May 31, 2008 - 7 p.m. CDT
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-124 MCC Status Report #01
Space shuttle Discovery initiated delivery of a Japanese laboratory to the International Space Station this afternoon, lifting off at 4:02 p.m. CDT from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Aboard the shuttle are Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Ken Ham and Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff, and Akihiko Hoshide, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut.

During the 14-day mission, Discovery’s crew will deliver and install the main experiment module and the robotic arm of Japan’s Kibo module. Kibo, which means “Hope” in English, is Japan’s major contribution to the station. The first Japanese component was delivered on the STS-123 shuttle flight in March.

Kibo will be the station’s largest laboratory module, nine feet longer than the U.S. Destiny laboratory and 14 feet longer than the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory.

Three spacewalks are planned to help install the Kibo laboratory, work on the station’s cooling system, restore the station to full power-generating capability, and transfer the 50-foot-long heat-shield sensor boom to Discovery.

International Space Station Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Garrett Reisman are awaiting the arrival of the new module and crew member Chamitoff.

Discovery’s crew will begin a sleep period at 10:02 p.m. and awaken at 6:02 a.m. Sunday to begin its first full day in space. The shuttle is scheduled to dock to the station at 12:54 p.m. Monday.

The next shuttle status report will be issued after the crew awakens Sunday, or earlier if events warrant.

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