CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 11 (UPI) -- Space shuttle Endeavour roared into the dark Florida sky early Tuesday, beginning a record 16-day mission to the International Space Station.
Endeavour lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 2:28 a.m. EDT. During the STS-123 mission -- the longest flight ever taken to the ISS -- the Endeavour's seven astronauts will work with the three-member space station crew to install the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system known as Dextre. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration mission will also include a record five shuttle spacewalks.
Shortly before launch, Shuttle Commander Dominic Gorie thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible and then said: "God's truly blessed us with a beautiful night to launch so let's light 'em up and give them a show."
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of Endeavour's mission, which is the 122nd shuttle flight, the 21st for Endeavour and the 25th shuttle mission to the station.