* NASA hopes to land shuttle at 7:05 p.m. EDT in Florida
* Mystery object flew away during last spacewalk
* Six shuttle missions remain before program ends
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Sept 10 The shuttle
Discovery crew fired steering rockets on Friday to dodge a
piece of space debris during what was expected to be the final
day of a successful resupply run to the International Space
NASA doesn't know what the space junk is, except that it
likely came from the shuttle or space station on Saturday
during the last of the Discovery crew's three spacewalks.
The shuttle departed the station on Tuesday. It is
scheduled to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at
7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 GMT) on Thursday.
"Exactly what (the debris) is is not known, but it's been
moving toward the orbiter so it is a concern," said mission
commentator Pat Ryan.
During Discovery's nine-day stay at the station, two other
pieces of orbital debris sent engineers scrambling to prepare
avoidance maneuvers, which were later determined to be
unnecessary. Those pieces of space junk were identified as part
of a spent upper-stage European rocket motor and a fragment
from an obsolete weather satellite China destroyed in January
2007 during a widely condemned weapons test.
Discovery blasted off a minute before midnight on Aug. 28
with more than 7.5 tons of food, laboratory equipment, science
experiments, spare parts and a new treadmill and crew quarters
for the space station, which is nearing completion after more
than a decade of construction.
NASA plans six more shuttle missions to the orbital
outpost, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, before the fleet
(Editing by Jane Sutton and Phil Stewart)