At 4:53 p.m. EST Thursday, space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch marked the beginning of Discovery's final spaceflight. Discovery, NASA's oldest orbiter, will ferry hardware and supplies to the International Space Station during its 11-day journey.
Here's the dazzling view from onlookers on the ground:
First launched in 1984, Discovery has logged nearly 230 million kilometers, more than any other reusable spacecraft. This is the 39th flight for Discovery.
Only two other shuttle flights remain after Discovery's mission: Endeavour and Atlantis will both be retired later this year.
Want to follow along with the Discovery mission? Mission specialist Nicole Stott will be Tweeting updates from space.