Despite dubious weather, ice buildup, and wing cracks, Discovery successfully launched from Cape Canaveral this morning. The spacecraft carries a crew of seven—including Pamela Melroy, only the second female shuttle commander—to a daunting construction job on the International Space Station, the AP reports. The "to do" list includes at least five spacewalks to install an addition and a set of 240-foot solar wings.
A chunk of ice was spotted on Discovery's external fuel tank prior to launch; it was deemed too small to pose a hazard and was seen melting just before launch. The space station addition, a bus-sized residential compartment dubbed Harmony, is a precursor to laboratory units that will link up with European and Japanese counterparts in coming months.