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Discovery Launch Marks End Of Shuttle Era

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Final journey. For the last time, space shuttle Discovery blasted off in to space Thursday. The mission marks the beginning of the end of the shuttle era.

Kai Jackson explains this mission brings up questions surrounding the future of the American space program.

Space shuttle Discovery is on its 39th and final journey to space.

After a four-month delay, NASA’s most traveled shuttle blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. Several pieces of foam insulation appeared to fall away from the shuttle’s repaired fuel tank, but engineers aren’t worried.

“It doesn’t cause us a lot of concern, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still keep digging and looking and trying to understand over the next several weeks,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA deputy director.

The crew of six headed to the International Space Station with supplies. A robot will be used for maintenance tasks.

NASA only has two flights left before the 30-year program ends. A Goucher College scientist watched the shuttle launch.

“Well, it was a pretty standard launch,” said Professor Ben Sugerman, Goucher College.

At the Hoffberger science lab at Goucher College, they’re doing groundbreaking research. Sugerman is less concerned with the decommissioning of the space shuttle and more concerned that NASA doesn’t appear to have a plan to replace them.

“I haven’t seen any or read about any particular developments that would lead to a functional vehicle,” Sugerman said. “For the time being, we’re going to have to rely on the Russians module to be able to do heavy lifting.”

Discovery first launched in 1984 and is known as the flight leader in NASA. It launched the Hubble Telescope and took legendary astronaut John Glenn back to space.

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