Riding a brilliant ball of flaming liquid rocket fuel into the night sky, the space shuttle Endeavour left Earth on Friday, carrying seven astronauts on a 15-day mission to the international space station, CNN reported.
The space shuttle Endeavour launched on time Friday night from the Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida, mission managers announced.
While there, the astronauts will increase the station's living space with room for six instead of the current three.
Mission managers cleared the shuttle launch about 10 minutes before its scheduled launch.
The final inspection team, also known as the "ice team," gave a last look using cameras, binoculars and infrared sensing devices to look for any ice build up on the shuttle stack, which includes the orbiter, the external tank, and the solid rocket boosters.
The 15-day flight's major goal is to do update the international space station so it will be able to house six crew members at a time more comfortably. That includes a lot of things needed in any residence with a growing family -- more places to sleep, another bathroom, a better water system, some new exercise equipment and a bigger refrigerator. The crew size is expected to double from three to six next spring.
Four spacewalks are also scheduled, with a focus on repairing and servicing the stations two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints. Those enable the station's solar panels to track the sun.
The mission will also bring astronaut Greg Chamitoff home from the space station. He has been there since May. His replacement is Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus.
The crew also includes Commander Chris Ferguson, mission specialist Donald Pettit, mission specialist Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, pilot Eric Boe, mission specialist Steve Bowen and mission specialist Shane Kimbrough.