"Discovery now making one last reach for the stars," the Mission Control commentator said once the shuttle cleared the launch tower.
Discovery is the oldest of NASA's three surviving space shuttles and the first to be decommissioned this year. Two missions remain, first by Atlantis and then Endeavour, to end the 30-year program.
It was Discovery's 39th launch and the 133rd shuttle mission overall. "Great way to go out," said launch director Mike Leinbach.
UNIQUELY AFRICAN! UNIQUELY YOU!!