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Atlantis soars into orbit

Cape Canaveral, September 9
After two frustrating weeks of delays, space shuttle Atlantis and its six astronauts blasted off today on a mission to resume construction of the international space station, for the first time since the Columbia disaster three and a half years ago.

The shuttle rose from its seaside launch pad through a clear blue sky at 11:15 am (2045 IST).

“By our count it has been almost four years, two return to flight missions, a tremendous amount of work by thousands of individuals,” said Brent Jett, Atlantis' commander shortly before liftoff. “We're confident that in the next few weeks, and the next few years for that matter, NASA is going to prove to our nation and our friends ... that it was worth the wait and we're ready to get to work.” —AP 

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