Monday, April 5

Space Shuttle Discovery Launches On One of Last Missions

Space Shuttle Discovery and seven (7) Astronauts lifts off on Monday on one of NASA's final servicing missions to the International Space Station.

A brilliant flash of light and a thundering roar, the shuttle lifted off at 6:21 a.m. EDT (1021 GMT) shattering the predawn calm around the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch marked the start of NASA's 131st shuttle mission and Discovery was scheduled to reach the space station on Wednesday for a nine-day stay.

"The vehicle is clean, weather is good and this team is ready. It is time for you to rise to orbit. Good luck and Godspeed," launch director Pete Nickolenko radioed to the Discovery crew shortly before liftoff.

"Let's do it," replied commander Alan Poindexter. "We'll see you in a few weeks."

Discovery is carrying an Italian-built cargo hauler filled with equipment, experiments, food and supplies for the space station, which has been under construction about 220 miles (355 km) above Earth since 1998.
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