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Last Updated: Tuesday July 26 2005 15:27 GMT

Discovery shuttle has blasted off

The Discovery shuttle waits on its launch pad

The space shuttle Discovery has successfully blasted off into space in an important mission for the space agency Nasa.

The launch is the first since the shuttle Columbia broke up while trying to re-enter Earth's atmosphere in 2003.

Discovery was set to take off on 13 July, but was held up by a problem with a fuel sensor that is still faulty.

Lift-off took place at 10.39am local time (2.39pm in Britain) from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SHUTTLE RETURN TO FLIGHT
Mission known as STS-114
Discovery's 31st flight
17th orbiter flight to ISS
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Launch Pad 39B
Discovery crew: Collins, Kelly, Noguchi, Robinson, Thomas, Lawrence and Camarda

The launch will be very closely watched to see if Nasa have learned from the mistakes that caused the Columbia disaster, killing seven astronauts.

The shuttle will travel to the International Space Station during its 12 day voyage.

As well as supplies for the ISS, Discovery features new safety equipment, including a repair-kit for heat shield tiles and a 15m-long robotic arm that will inspect the shuttle for damage in space.