Space shuttle Discovery rocketed into orbit early Saturday, carrying lab equipment, supplies, spare parts, genetically altered mice and a new crew member to the International Space Station.
The shuttle soared off its seaside launch pad at 05:59 UTC with a brilliant burst of flames and a thundering roar that shattered the night’s calm and temporarily turned the dark Florida sky as bright as day.
Discovery is toting more than 7 tons of laboratory equipment, food, supplies, spare parts and science experiments, including genetically altered mice that will live aboard the station for a bone-loss study that could lead to new treatments for osteoporosis.
With Discovery’s flight, NASA hopes to begin shifting the focus of the space station from assembly to research. Aboard Discovery are two refrigerator-sized racks for fluid physics and materials science experiments and a sub-zero freezer to store science samples.
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