With a rocket’s red glare, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in a spectacular display of sound and light befitting of Independence Day.
Commanded by Steven Lindsey, Discovery and its crew of seven astronauts roared from Launch Pad 39B to begin a 15,000-mph chase to rendezvous with the International Space Station.
As Discovery raced into the bright blue sky, cheers and applause erupted across Kennedy and along the nearby beaches of Florida’s Space Coast. Today’s successful launch came on the third try after the first two attempts to launch were dashed by poor weather.
After reaching orbit, the crew observed an object floating past the overhead window. Astronaut Mike Fossum described it as possibly a thermal protection blanket. NASA is in the initial stages of analyzing this and other data from the launch.
NASA TV will televise an STS-121 mission-assessment news conference with Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale at approximately 7:30 p.m. EDT.