Morning Star: Pre-dawn Launch of Shuttle Discovery

The Great Curve

NASA/Ben Cooper

Space Shuttle Discovery launched on its STS-131 mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida shortly before dawn on April 5, 2010. Time-elapsed photography captures Discovery's path to orbit. Liftoff from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was at 6:21 a.m. EDT April 5 on the STS-131 mission.

Shine a Light


The space shuttle Discovery lifts off on its STS-131 mission April 5, 2010.

The Night Watch

Roger Guillemette for

NASA's space shuttle Discovery launches into space just before dawn on April 5, 2010 to begin the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station.

Girls and Boys

Robert Pearlman/

The seven-astronaut STS-131 crew of NASA's shuttle Discovery heads to the launch pad for their April 5, 2010 launch. The astronauts are (from left) mission specialists Clayton Anderson, Naoko Yamazaki (of JAXA), Stephanie Wilson, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, pilot Jim Dutton and commander Alan Poindexter

Let's Go!


Shuttle Discovery's STS-131 astronaut crew heads out to the launch pad on April 5, 2010 for their launch to the International Space Station on a delivery mission.

Sign of the Times


NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger holds up a sign for her 3-year-old daughter Cambria just before boarding the shuttle Discovery for the launch of STS-131 on April 5, 2010.

Shadows and Light

NASA/Kenny Allen

Space shuttle Discovery soars into a black pre-dawn sky on April 5, 2010 to begin the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. Here, bright rocket engine flames cast crisp shadows on the exhaust plume from the stunning liftoff.

The Starting Line

NASA/Sandra Joseph and Kevin OConnell

Space shuttle Discovery is seen from above at the moment of ignition before it launches off of Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida beginning the STS-131 mission. Shuttle Discovery lifted off at 6:21 a.m. EDT on April 5, 2010. Click to enlarge.

I Shot an Arrow Into the Sky

NASA/Tony Gray/Tom Farrar

An exhaust cloud billowed around Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as space shuttle Discovery lifted off to begin the STS-131 mission. The seven-member crew will deliver the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, filled with supplies.

Reflections of Blastoff

NASA/Scott Andrews

The brilliance of space shuttle Discovery’s liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is reflected in the water near Launch Pad 39A. Liftoff on the STS-131 mission was on time at 6:21 a.m. EDT on April 5, 2010.

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Meldeine Sipes

Friday, July 19, 2013: Astrophotographer Meldeine Sipes sent in a photo of the night sky over Sequoia National Park in California. She writes: “Over the 4th of July weekend, my family went on a road trip to the Sequoia National Park to see giants and stars. For the first time, we saw the night sky as nature intended. The sequoias reminded us how small we are, and the night sky showed us that the giants surrounding us were smaller than we could ever imagine.”

— Tom Chao

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