Space Shuttle Atlantis blasts off to space

Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from Florida | Image: NASA / CNN It may have been two months late, almost hampered by storms (including the tornados that swept the American South the day before) and at risk of numerous technical problems, but Space Shuttle Atlantis has finally blasted off to space, headed for the International Space Station.

And what an amazing launch it was – I, like millions of others, will never cease to be amazed by that moment when the shuttle starts to lift off the ground. It’s seriously cool.

So what’s Atlantis doing at the ISS this time round? Its primary objective is to deliver Europe’s $2 billion Columbus Space Laboratory, which has been 23 years in the making. There will also be some crew changeovers.

NASA hopes to fit in another five Shuttle launches this year, as it starts to worry that the ISS will not be complete by the time the Shuttle is retired in 2010 – its successor does not roll out until 2014.

During the Shuttle’s 11/12 day long mission, you can watch non-stop coverage on NASA TV, free to watch online (click here).

I’ll be posting the highlights here on exploring our world.

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