'Space shuttle can land on Earth'

WASHINGTON - Dust and ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland that has shut down air traffic in Europe will not prevent the space shuttle Discovery from landing as scheduled today, say Nasa officials.

WASHINGTON - Dust and ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland that has shut down air traffic in Europe will not prevent the space shuttle Discovery from landing as scheduled today, say Nasa officials.

A day after leaving the International Space Station, the seven crew members were making final preparations for their return to earth this morning at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Iceland's erupting volcano won't affect Discovery's landing on Monday. Re-entry course isn't near ash cloud," read a message from the Kennedy Space Center on the Twitter micro-blogging service.

Discovery is ending a mission that broke new ground by putting four women in orbit simultaneously. The craft also carries two Japanese astronauts.

Discovery and its crew delivered nearly eight tons of cargo, including spare bunks for the occupants of the space station, a large tank of ammonia coolant and seven racks filled with science experiments.

The volcanic ash cloud from Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano has wrought havoc on air travel around the world and, with huge losses building every day, airlines are desperate for a quick end after four days of chaos. - Sapa-AFP

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