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STS-115: Takeoff successful - and now for the mission

11 busy days of work are expected for the crew members of the space shuttle Atlantis in the continuation of the assembly of the International Space Station

Avi Blizovsky

At a press conference after the launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA managers expressed great excitement following the launch, which at least according to the indicators seemed to be successful. Now NASA is looking ahead, to the mission itself.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said: "Once again it is a great honor for me to be part of a high-quality program and team and to watch them work. Today we saw an example of a smooth countdown and a successful and majestic launch."

Bill Gerstenmeier, NASA's Assistant Administrator for Space Operations added: "The team did a great job, it wasn't easy to get here. They overcame many obstacles along the way." According to Gerstmeier, the astronauts have a busy task ahead of them and they are ready for it.

The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday at noon Florida time on a mission to add power generation capability to the International Space Station. The launch was right on time - 11:15 am (18:15 Israel time). During the 11 days of the mission, the six crew members will perform two spacewalks to connect two giant beams and must add the two arrays of solar collectors that will double the power generation capacity of the station.

The knowledge site will continue and accompany the operation until landing.

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