Volume: 03, Issue: 15 07/27/2005 
Space Shuttle Discovery launches from Kennedy Space Center. Image courtesy NASA/KSC.
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Space Shuttle Discovery launches from Kennedy Space Center. Image courtesy NASA/KSC.
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First Lady Laura Bush congratulates the NASA team on the successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery at Kennedy Space Center Launch Control Center Firing Room. Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls.
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STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins waves while she and Mission Specialist Steve Robinson work on Discovery's flight deck hours after launch. Image courtesy NASA TV.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
Cassini Finds Intriguing Features on Enceladus
Aviation Aficionados Flock to AirVenture 2005
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Preps for Launch
Take Part in Science Broadcasts
 

Discovery Launches into Orbit

The 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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