Blast off!

Photo by Richard Coyle.

Finally ...

Discovery is launched! As the third time was the charm, the launch went off on time at 7:43 p.m. in excellent weather conditions. As twilight settled in on Cape Canaveral, and the launch tower faded from view, everything changed with the ignition sequence as the launch pad lit up brighter than daylight.

As Discovery rose slowly out of the support tower, it gained altitude, then rolled over on its back with the fuel tank and solid booster rockets facing us, and banked out over the Atlantic. Within three minutes it was only a bright speck down range, leaving a long plume of smoke in the evening sky.

What a blast! It was a fantastic conclusion to a fascinating week at Kennedy Space Center.