NASA’s Endeavour shuttle blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday for its last ever flight.
The shuttle lifted off from the seaside Launch Pad 39A at 12:56 GMT, NASA said in a statement.
The launch was originally scheduled for April 29, but was delayed several times due to technical problems.
The crew, led by Mark Edward Kelly, includes pilot Gregory H. Johnson, U.S. astronauts Andrew J. Feustel, Edward Michael Fincke and Gregory Errol Chamitoff, and Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori.
During Endeavour’s final 14 days in space it will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas and a high-pressure gas tank to the International Space Station (ISS.)
The Endeavour will be the second to last NASA shuttle rocket to retire. The Atlantis is due to perform its final mission in July.
Once the shuttle fleet is retired, Russian Soyuz craft will be the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS until at least the middle of the decade. NASA is paying its Russian counterpart Roscosmos more than $1 billion for crew transport services over the next four years.
MOSCOW, May 16 (RIA Novosti)