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Science Briefing

Space shuttle takes off with a special payload

August 29, 2009|From Times Staff And Wire Reports

Space shuttle Discovery and seven astronauts blazed into orbit Friday on a spectacular midnight flight to the International Space Station, hauling up a treadmill named after a TV funnyman, and thousands of pounds of other supplies.

Discovery lit up the sky for miles around as it thundered away from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on NASA's third launch attempt. The ascending shuttle resembled a bright star until it blinked out of sight five minutes after liftoff.

The space station was soaring more than 220 miles above the Indian Ocean, southwest of Tasmania, when Discovery took off. The shuttle is to reach the orbiting outpost Sunday night.

Discovery's most prominent payload is NASA's new $5-million treadmill, which is named after Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert.

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