KENNEDY SPACE CENTER -- An on-time launch against a brilliant blue Florida sky has sent the shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven to the international space station.
About five pieces of debris -- likely ice or foam insulation -- could be seen falling from the fuel tank during liftoff. But it did not appear to occur during the crucial first 2 minutes.
When the shuttle arrives at the space station the crew will unload and install a one billion dollar school-bus-size science lab from Japan.
The lab -- named Kibo, Japanese for hope -- will be the biggest room by far at the space station. With its installation, the orbiting outpost will be three-quarters complete.
The crew will also hand deliver a new pump for a space station toilet.
Aggie astronaut Mike Fossum is on board this flight. It's Fossum's second trip on Discovery. His first came in 2006.
Click on the links below for much more on Discovery's mission and Fossum.