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NASA readies for blast off and a new record aboard the space station

By / June 12, 2009



Life is about to get crowded aboard the International Space Station.

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Weather permitting, the shuttle Endeavour will blast into the morning light on Saturday. The craft will deliver the final segment of Japan's orbit labrotory, 600 pounds of food, and a seven-member crew.

That means when Endeavour docks, the station will host 13 astronauts – the largest space troop yet.

"It's like having your family descend on you for the holidays, right? And they're going to stay for a very long time when they come and they're bringing all their stuff," Mike Moses, chairman of NASA's mission management team, told the AP.

NASA says it's 90 percent sure that it will prep the shuttle late tonight, fueling the massive spaceship before its 7:17 a.m. launch.

This 11-day trip will be one of the final eight missions before NASA mothballs the aging shuttle program. What comes next is still under debate in Washington. The White House formed a commission, headed by former Lockheed Martin chief Norm Augustine, to investigate and suggest a new manned space-flight plan. The report should come in August.

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