Saturday, 26 February 2011

Discovery makes final reach for the stars

Discovery blastoff
Space shuttle Discovery lifts off from the Kennedy Space Centre on its last mission. Picture: AP Source: AP
DISCOVERY, the world's most travelled spaceship, thundered into orbit for the final time yesterday morning (AEDT), heading towards the International Space Station on a journey that marks the beginning of the end of the shuttle era.
The six astronauts on board, all experienced space fliers, were thrilled to be on their way after a delay of nearly four months for fuel tank repairs. Discovery returns in 11 days and will eventually be put on display by the Smithsonian Institution.
"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.

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