Main engine cutoff is confirmed: space shuttle Endeavour has reached orbit. The shuttle lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as planned at 7:17 a.m. EDT and began its orbital chase of the International Space Station, orbiting 225 miles above Earth’s surface.
And from Nasa’s website:
For 50 years, NASA’s been famous for counting backward from 10 to zero. But a final countdown is now under way that will stand out among them all.
After 126 space shuttle missions, only eight remain before the fleet is scheduled to retire. That’s eight flights remaining to use the unique capabilities of the shuttle to finish construction on the International Space Station and prepare it for life after shuttle. Each flight is unique and extremely complicated. Attention to detail and planning will be needed to be successful. There are no easy flights remaining and there may be pauses in this countdown that will ensure the highest chance of mission success. The shuttle will fly each flight when it’s ready.