December 20, 2014
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (AP) - NASA's launch director says "everything was just clicking, everything felt good" as shuttle Discovery prepared to soar into space.
Mike Leinbach says after getting the latest-ever start on fueling the shuttle, the ground crew played catch-up and the weather improved. That let Commander Mark Polansky and six fellow astronauts ride a brilliant tail of flame into the Saturday night sky on their second launch attempt.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin says the weather "made our bets pay off" as winds died down and conditions at the Kennedy Space Center got better throughout the day instead of worse throughout the day.
After settling down for some sleep, the Discovery crew will spend its first full day in space carefully examining the shuttle for any launch damage. It's due to dock with the international space station Monday.
The astronauts will then play electrician, doing three spacewalks, two of them to re-wire the station and upgrade its electrical system.