Update: Discovery leaves Earth - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Update: Discovery leaves Earth

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (AP) - The space shuttle is roaring up to meet the space station in orbit. In a mid-afternoon launch, Discovery soared into a blue sky atop a column of flame and smoke. The shuttle discarded its solid rocket boosters as it surpassed 26-hundred miles an-hour in Florida's sky. It's the first launch in nearly a year, and just the second since the Columbia disaster. NASA has worked since then to prevent foam pieces from damaging the shuttle, as happened during the Columbia launch. Six U-S astronauts are aboard, along with one from the European Space Agency. The crew will test shuttle-inspection techniques and deliver supplies to the international space station. It will also drop off the European astronaut for a six-month stay. The Fourth of July launch came after two weekend delays. NASA managers decided to go ahead with the launch even after inspectors found a flaw in foam insulation on the external fuel tank. Before it took off, launch director Mike Leinbach told the crew of seven "good luck and Godspeed." Commander Steven Lindsey said he "can't think of a better place to be" on the Fourth of July.
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