Discovery Blasts Off Carrying 7 Astronauts

Mission heads to International Space Station
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2010 6:16 AM CDT
Discovery Blasts Off Carrying 7 Astronauts
From left, Mission Specialists Clayton Anderson, Naoko Yamazaki, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, and Rick Mastracchio, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr., and Commander Alan G. Poindexter.   (Wilfredo Lee)

Discovery and seven astronauts rocketed into orbit today on one of NASA's final stockpiling missions to the International Space Station, its liftoff flames bringing an early dawn to the coast with this last scheduled shuttle launch in darkness. The pre-dawn launch helped clinch a record for the most women in space at the same time.

Three women are aboard Discovery, and another is already at the space station. The shuttle should arrive at the orbiting outpost Wednesday. In a rare treat, the space station passed over the launch site 15 minutes before Discovery blasted off and was easily visible, resembling a star in the morning sky with the moon as a dramatic backdrop. (Read more Discovery space shuttle stories.)

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