Discovery Launches With Japanese Laboratory

Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 5:02 p.m. EDT Saturday to deliver and install a Japanese laboratory on the International Space Station.

The mission, designated STS-124, is the second of three flights to launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. Discovery is carrying Kibo's tour bus-sized Japanese Pressurized Module, or JPM, which will be the station's largest module. The shuttle astronauts will work with the three-member station crew and ground teams around the world to install the JPM and Kibo's robotic arm system.

STS-124Shortly before launch, Commander Mark Kelly thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible. "We're going to deliver Kibo, or hope, to the space station," Kelly said. "And while we tend to live for today, the discoveries from Kibo will certainly offer hope for tomorrow."

Joining Kelly on Discovery's 14-day flight are Pilot Ken Ham and Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Greg Chamitoff and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. Garan and Fossum will conduct three spacewalks during the mission. Chamitoff will replace current station crew member Garrett Reisman, who has lived on the outpost since mid-March. Chamitoff will return to Earth on Endeavour's STS-126 mission, targeted for Nov. 10.


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