The space shuttle Discovery has launched into space on its final mission, carrying a crew of six people and one humanoid robot – the first to be sent into orbit. Discovery launched at 1650 EST on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver water, oxygen, and spare parts to the International Space Station. The shuttle and its crew are scheduled to return to Earth after 11 days in space, but will leave a humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 on the space station. After an initial testing period, NASA hopes that Robonaut 2 will become a useful member of the space station crew, carrying out simple tasks like cleaning to give station crew members more time for other work. It may even be sent outside the station to do inspections or maintenance work.
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