The space shuttle Discovery launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 5:02 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 31. It will deliver the second component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAEA) Kibo laboratory.
It will also deliver a new pump for the International Space Station’s (ISS) toilet. For the last week, the ISS crew has been flushing manually, a two person, 10-minute job.
The crew of mission STS-124 consists of Commander Mark Kelly; Pilot Ken Ham; Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum and Greg Chamitoff; JAEA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide; and Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear.
Garan and Fossum will conduct three, 6.5-hour spacewalks during the 14-day mission. They will primarily be setting up Kibo laboratory.
Chamitoff will remain on the ISS for six months, replacing Garrett Reisman, who has lived on the ISS since mid-March.
Lightyear, a 12in tall toy made famous in the Disney/Pixar Toy Story movies, is visiting the ISS as part of an educational program.
Discovery is scheduled to dock with the ISS on Monday. See the NASA site for updates.