NASA Shuttle Launch: Discovery’s Final Mission Takeoff

BY Jenny Marder  February 24, 2011 at 3:32 PM EDT

Updated 6:50 p.m. ET | After a series of scrubbed missions in late 2010, Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, for the final time.

The mission is STS-133. Time of launch: 4:53 p.m. ET Thursday. The orbiter is now headed for the International Space Station.

Discovery, known as the workhorse of the fleet, is stained and streaked with age. It has flown more missions and carried more crew members than any other shuttle. It was the return-to-flight shuttle after both the Columbia and Challenger disasters and is close to the heart of many space watchers, including our own science correspondent, Miles O’Brien, who has covered nearly 40 shuttle missions.

Hari Sreenivasan talked to Miles before the shuttle’s takeoff at the Kennedy Space Center for some perspective on Discovery’s legacy.

And for more on the shuttle, view Judy Woodruff’s November 2010 discussion with Miles O’Brien on the retiring space shuttle program and the future of human spaceflight.