UPDATED: Shuttle Endeavour soars - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATED: Shuttle Endeavour soars on 2nd-to-last space shuttle trip

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NASA NASA
By MARCIA DUNN
AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space shuttle Endeavour is finally on its way.

Endeavour blasted off on the next-to-last shuttle flight Monday morning under the command of Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The wounded congresswoman watched the launch in private from Kennedy Space Center.

As many as 45,000 guests jammed NASA's launch site. The crowd outside the gates was estimated to be in the tens of thousands, if not more.

It was the second launch attempt. Late last month, an electrical problem halted the countdown.

Endeavour and its six astronauts will arrive at the International Space Station on Wednesday. They are delivering a $2 billion particle physics experiment. The mission will last 16 days.

Only one other shuttle trip remains.

Endeavour is the baby of NASA's shuttle fleet. It was built to replace the Challenger, lost in a 1986 launch accident. Endeavour first flew in 1992 - it ended its first mission 19 years ago Monday.

NASA is retiring its three remaining space shuttles after 30 years to concentrate on interplanetary travel. The space agency wants to hand over the business of getting crews and cargo to the space station, to private companies. At least one company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., said it can get astronauts to the space station within three years of getting NASA approval.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

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