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NASA Hails Smooth Launch


*NASA Hails Smooth Launch*
23 October 2007

Image Above: Space shuttle Discovery leaps from its launch pad Tuesday 
morning to start STS-120. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Scott Audette
+ View larger image 

NASA officials and launch managers were pleased Tuesday following a 
clean countdown and flawless launch of space shuttle Discovery from 
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the launch team at NASA's Kennedy 
Space Center was able to study a potential problem of ice buildup 
without jeopardizing the shuttle while still launching on time.

"It was one of the cleanest countdowns we've had since I've been launch 
director," Leinbach said.

Discovery and its seven astronauts have a tight schedule that calls for 
placing the new Harmony segment to the International Space Station, 
moving a tower of solar arrays already in space to a new location and 
overseeing the station crew rotation that will see Discovery astronaut 
Dan Tani and station resident Clayton Anderson switch places.

"(There is) just a tremendous set of challenges in front of us," said 
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations.

There won't be much time to savor the liftoff, though, because 
preparations are already under way to get Atlantis over to the launch 
pad for a Dec. 6 launch.

"This is exactly what the (launch) teams have trained multiple years 
for," Gerstenmaier said.

*Mission Information*
+ STS-120 Mission Overview 
+ Harmony Node 2 

+ Space Shuttle Discovery 
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