Space Shuttle Discovery launches for mission STS-121
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
The Space Shuttle Discovery has been launched from Kennedy Space Center, on mission STS-121. This is 115th Space Shuttle Flight and the second since the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003.
The ascent was described as "smooth", however NASA engineers will be looking for traces of damage to the shuttle's heat shield that may be caused by foam falling from the external tank.
Around 3 minutes into the launch, an on-board camera showed numerous pieces of insulation foam break away from the fuel tank. However, they are not thought to have caused any damage to the shuttle. NASA's shuttle program chief N. Wayne Hale Jr. said the foam had fallen "after the time we are concerned about."
This is the first time an American manned spacecraft has added its own launch fireworks to Fourth of July celebrations in the United States.
- "NASA to launch Discovery despite crack in insulation foam" — Wikinews, July 4, 2006
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