Discovery Shuttle Blasts Off for Final Voyage

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The space shuttle Discovery and its six-man crew blasted off from Cape Canaveral for its final voyage to space, Thursday.

The crew is headed for the International Space Station after a four-month delay for fuel tank repairs.

Click play to watch Discovery's final launch.

This is Discovery's 39th and final mission. No other spacecraft has been launched more times.

After a million miles and nearly a year in orbit, the Smithsonian Institution will likely be the final home for Discovery when it's officially retired and decommissioned.

Launch director Mike Leinbach called Discovery "a great amazing machine."

"This is her 39th mission," Leinbach said on Wednesday. "We'd have quite a few left in her had the program been extended, but it wasn't," he said, referring to the Obama administration's decision to end NASA's manned spaceflight program.

Discovery will be the first of the three surviving shuttles to be shipped to a museum.

"Landing day is going to be tough," he said, as it will be for the last two missions of the remaining shuttles - Endeavor this spring and Atlantis in the summer.

There will be a lot of emotional people on the runway "because it's the end of a 30-year program that not only have we worked in...but we've grown to love and appreciate and feel like we're doing something special for the country and really the world," Leinbach said.

While America's space program faces an uncertain future, NASA's staff are focused on Discovery's 11-day mission and the cargo its carrying to the space station.

On board is a "humanoid" robot, slated to make history as the first of its kind in space.

Discovery, first launched in 1984, carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990. It also carried astronaut John Glenn into space at the age of 77 and helped get NASA back on its feet after the Challenger and Columbia shuttle tragedies.

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