The thunderous sound of applause and rocket engines erupted across Kennedy Space Center, Fla., as Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Launch Pad 39B for NASA's Return to Flight mission. After a delay of several days due to recent problems related to a liquid hydrogen low-level fuel sensor inside the external fuel tank, Space Shuttle Discovery launched this morning at 10:39 AM EST. Engineers have been working around-the-clock on troubleshooting the sensor system issue.
During the countdown, managers monitored for recurrence of the problem. If any new sensor-related issues occurred, engineers would have stopped the countdown to reassess the situation.
Commanded by Eileen Collins and carrying an international crew of seven astronauts, the Space Shuttle soared over the Atlantic Ocean as it left Florida's eastern shores and climbed into the sky.
With the clearing of the launch pad tower and Discovery in orbit, the vehicle and its crew now begins the two-day chase to rendezvous with the International Space Station.
During their 12-day mission to the International Space Station, Commander Eileen Collins and her six fellow astronauts will test new techniques and equipment designed to make Space Shuttles safer. They also will deliver supplies and make repairs to the Space Station.