Discovery on the Way

Discovery is on the way.

The space shuttle leaped off the Florida launch pad last night in a blaze of fire that turned night into day. Shuttle commander Mark Polansky radioed back that the astronauts haven't stopped smiling.

Mission control calls it "a great start to a great mission."

The shuttle is headed for the international space station, due to dock with it tomorrow. Today the crew will begin inspecting for any possible damage from falling debris during the launch.

It was the first nighttime shuttle departure in four years and is part of a race to get the space station built before the aging shuttles are retired in 2010. NASA figures it's going to take 13 more missions to get the job done.

Over the next 12 days, the Discovery crew will be carrying out some re-wiring work, delivering an 11 million-dollar addition and rotating out one of the space station's three crewmembers.

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