|Volume: 03, Issue: 15||07/27/2005|
Discovery Launches into OrbitThe earth trembled and engines roared as Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 10:39 a.m. EDT. A billowing shroud of smoke followed the Shuttle as it soared higher and higher in the skies, and cameras followed as it left Earth and entered the black realm of space. Those present at Kennedy Space Center -- including First Lady Laura Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush -- watched as Discovery faded from view.
More than 100 cameras documented the launch, which was broadcast on television stations around the world. For the first time, those of us still on Earth were able to witness the external tank separating from the orbiter, thanks to a camera mounted on the external tank.
“We know the folks on planet Earth are just feeling great right now,” said Eileen Collins, Discovery’s commander, from orbit.
The first of NASA's two Return to Flight missions, STS-114 comes after a two and a half year initiative to reinforce the orbiters and improve the safety of the Space Shuttle fleet. During their 12-day mission to the International Space Station, Collins and her six fellow astronauts will test new techniques and equipment designed to make Shuttles safer. They’ll also deliver supplies and make repairs to the Space Station after Discovery docks Thursday.
“I want you to think about what it takes to get millions of different parts from thousands of vendors across the country to work together to produce what you saw here today and to realize how chancy it is, how difficult it is, at what a primitive state of technology it still is,” said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. “This team managed to do it, and I think a large debt of appreciation is due to them.”
Discovery’s first launch attempt July 13 was postponed because of problems related to a liquid hydrogen low-level fuel sensor inside the external fuel tank. Hundreds of engineers across the country worked to analyze and understand the issue. The sensor system was repeatedly tested during today’s launch countdown, and it performed without a problem.
For the latest information about the STS-114 mission on the Web, visit http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight .
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