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NASA begins countdown for Discovery launch

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STS-131 is the 33rd shuttle mission to the station

CAPE CANAVERAL (AP): NASA's countdown clocks are ticking now for Monday's launch of space shuttle Discovery.

Discovery is scheduled to blast off just before dawn Monday with seven astronauts and a load of science experiments and spare parts for the International Space Station.

Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 80 per cent.

This is scheduled to be the last space shuttle launch in darkness. Only three shuttle missions remain after this one.

NASA already is relying on the Russians for rides to the space station. In fact, US astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson hitched a ride aboard a Soyuz rocket early today. The space agency hopes US commercial rockets will take over this taxi job, but that's still several years away.

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