STS-133, the last mission of the shuttle Discovery, is in orbit. Discovery has logged 39 space flights, more than any other orbiter.
"Good to be here," Commander Steve Lindsey radioed soon after the three main engines shut off and the external fuel tank was jettisoned. The official launch time was 4:53:24 p.m. EST."
COMMENT: The Shuttle was hampered by cost restrictions that kept it from being fully reusable, and plagued by two fatal accidents that were the fault of (avoidable) human error. But it was, for all that, a magnificent achievement, a spacecraft with countless uses, and it opened up space (at least, LEO space) to humans on a scale never seen before. It made possible the Hubble telescope and the International Space Station. We're going to miss it.