Discovery updates; Launch pics; MRSA research on ISS

Shuttle Discovery will inspect its thermal protection system today. NASA seems confident that the debris seen hitting the shuttle belly in the flight video produced no significant damage. Discovery will dock with the ISS at 2:16 p.m.EST on Saturday. Here are updates on the mission: /– Discovery crew to inspect heat shields today – The Flame Trench/Florida Today /– STS-133 Shuttle Report | Space shuttle Discovery soars on one last journey – Spaceflight Now /– STS-133 | Mission Status Center – Spaceflight Now === Pictures of the launch: /– Pictures: STS-133 Space Shuttle Discovery – OrlandoSentinel.com /– STS-133 Shuttle Report | Discovery sails into space for last time – Spaceflight Now === Discovery is delivering a payload to the ISS from Astrogenetix, a subsidiary of Astrotech (formally Spacehab), that will be used to carry out experiments on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in microgravity: Astrogenetix’s MRSA Research Continues on Discovery’s Last Mission – Astrogenetix (via spacetoday.net).

This will be the eleventh such research payload that the firm has sent to the ISS . Previous work led to a salmonella vaccine candidate (see this pdf) that is now working its way through the regulatory testing pipeline.

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