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Discovery Launches 100th Shuttle Mission for NASA

October 12, 2000|From Associated Press

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Space shuttle Discovery thundered into orbit Wednesday evening on NASA's 100th shuttle flight, carrying seven astronauts on a crucial construction trip to the international space station.

Discovery rose from its seaside pad at 7:17 p.m. EST, just after sunset, on NASA's fourth launch attempt. The shuttle had been grounded since last Thursday because of trouble with bolts, a valve, wind and a pin.

The space station was 240 miles above the Bay of Bengal when Discovery finally lifted off for its scheduled Friday rendezvous.

Discovery contains two new segments for the international space station. The crew's job is to attach the girder-like truss and docking port; four spacewalks will be needed to make all the connections, beginning Sunday.

The 11-day mission has been on hold for two years, as have subsequent assembly flights, because of Russia's difficulties in launching the space station's crew quarters. The module was finally placed in orbit in July and was outfitted by a visiting space shuttle crew in September.

The truss and docking port must be installed on the space station before the first permanent crew can move in. NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and his two-cosmonaut crew are scheduled to lift off from Kazakstan on Oct. 30.

Six Americans and one Japanese make up the crew.

In honor of the 100th shuttle launch, a videotape was played for guests featuring shuttle scenes and the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra," which was used as the theme for the film "2001: A Space Odyssey." The orchestra is marking its 100th anniversary.

NASA's first shuttle flight dates to 1981.

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