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NASA packs new toilet pump on shuttle Discovery for ISS
Updated: 2008-05-30 10:20

WASHINGTON -- NASA packed a new toilet pump aboard the space shuttle Discovery on Thursday to be sent to the International Space Station to fix its faulty Russian toilet, the US space agency said Thursday.

The new toilet pump and some other replacement parts were rushed in from Russia to the United States last night and were stowed inside the payload bay of Discovery, which is perched at the launch pad of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery is scheduled to lift off at 5:02 pm EDT (2102 GMT) on Saturday. When it arrives at the station, its crew and the residents of the station will install the new toilet parts. The three station residents already in orbit currently are using alternatives to the toilet.

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The station toilet acted up last week. It can work for solid waste disposal but requires additional steps for liquid waste. It must takes two crew members and 10 minutes of maintenance after three flushes, said Kirk Shireman, deputy International Space Station program manager at NASA.

"It is very inconvenient at this time because it requires a lotof manual intervention," Shireman said.

The good news for the station is that there are no trouble signs for Discovery as it nears launch day.

"The vehicle and the crew and the weather and the (launch) team are all ready to go," said LeRoy Cain, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, the group that oversees all aspects of the flight.

The weather forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time, said Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer.

"We're going to definitely have good weather," she said.

Discovery's 14-day flight will carry the largest payload so far to the station and includes three spacewalks. It is the second of three missions that will launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory.

The crew will install Kibo's large Japanese Pressurized Module and Kibo's robotic arm system. Discovery also will deliver new station crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who will end a three-month stay aboard the outpost.