CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.–The space shuttle Discovery roared off its Florida launch pad and soared into orbit on Tuesday on a key mission whose failure could end the U.S. shuttle program prematurely.
After two weather postponements during the weekend, skies cleared at the Kennedy Space Center and allowed NASA to successfully launch Discovery on just the second shuttle flight since the destruction of the shuttle Columbia and the deaths of seven crew members in February 2003.
Discovery, carrying six Americans and a German, lifted off from the seaside launch site at 2:38 p.m. EDT and jettisoned its booster rockets about 2 and a half minutes into the flight. It reached orbit about 9 minutes after launch.
“Discovery is ready, the weather is beautiful and America is ready to return the space shuttle to flight,” said launch director Mike Leinbach a few minutes before liftoff. “So good luck and Godspeed Discovery.”
“I can’t think of a better place to be, here on the Fourth of July,” shuttle commander Steve Lindsey replied, referring to U.S. Independence Day.
Discovery’s 12-day mission is critical to NASA’s plan to finish the half-built, $100 billion space station before the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010. Another accident or serious problem likely would ground the shuttles permanently.
NASA launched the 115th shuttle mission since 1981 after managers decided a crack in the foam that insulates Discovery’s massive external tank posed no launch hazard.
You can read more by clicking on the headline link about I just thought this was great enough to blog about. Also some bad news I also heard that North Korea test fired some missles today anyone else here of about that?