NASA Performs Last-Minute Repairs on Shuttle Discovery

 Space shuttle Discovery stands tall at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Space shuttle Discovery stands tall at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: NASA/Frank Michaux)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.  - NASA technicians performed a quick repair on space shuttle Discovery just in time to get back on track for a launch attempt today at 4:50 p.m. EST (2150 GMT).

Following a successful fix to a chipped tile around the space shuttle Discovery's crew hatch, the space shuttle is ready to launch toward the International Space Station from Launch Pad 39A here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The mission will be shuttle Discovery's final spaceflight before being retired.

"We're recommended to go ahead and continue at this time," said NASA test director Steve Payne following the repairs. "We're in a go configuration for flight."

The issue arose when some of the black thermal covering on one of the tiles around the hatch of the shuttle's crew compartment was chipped when technicians at the launch pad removed some protective paper.

All conditions are "go" for launch, NASA officials said, with weather predictions looking promising for this afternoon's liftoff. [Gallery: Building Space Shuttle Discovery]

Commander Steve Lindsey will lead the crew of six, including pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Michael Barratt, Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott, on the 11-day STS-133 mission.

You can follow Staff Writer Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow as she covers Discovery's final space voyage from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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Denise Chow
NBC News science writer

Denise Chow is a former staff writer who then worked as assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. She spent two years with, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions, before joining the Live Science team in 2013. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University. At NBC News, Denise covers general science and climate change.