Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Discovery takes off -- finally

March 16, 2009|Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. — Space shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven rocketed into orbit Sunday evening, setting off on a mission cut short by launch delays that dragged on for more than a month.

Discovery rose from its seaside pad at 7:43 p.m. EDT just as the sun was setting. As the shuttle sped away from Kennedy Space Center like a brilliant star, part of the launch plume glowed a brilliant mix of pink, peach and gold. Clear skies allowed the shuttle to be visible for several minutes.

A hydrogen leak prevented Discovery from lifting off Wednesday. Before that, the shuttle was grounded for weeks in February as NASA ran tests to determine whether newly installed valves would cause serious damage if they broke during liftoff. Launch pad repairs took care of the leak.

Commander Lee Archambault and his crew, which includes two former schoolteachers, should reach the International Space Station on Tuesday. The astronauts are delivering one last set of solar wings for the station and crucial equipment for a relatively new water-recycling system.

The four-day leak delay forced NASA to shorten Discovery's mission by a day and cancel a spacewalk.

Because a Russian Soyuz rocket launches March 26, Discovery needs to be gone from the space station by the time that spacecraft arrives. The Soyuz will carry up a fresh crew for the station.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|