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Liftoff of Discovery on mission STS-121 is the first launch ever to take place on Independence Day.

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Image of Space Shuttle launching and landing at Kennedy Space CenterSTS-121 Multimedia Gallery
+ NASA Home > Mission Sections > Space Shuttle > Launch and Landing > STS-121

Mission: STS-121 - International Space Station Flight ULF1.1
Space Shuttle: Discovery
Launch Pad: 39B
Launched: July 4, 2006 at 2:38 p.m. EDT
Landing: July 17, 2006 at 9:14 a.m. EDT
Landing Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Duration: 12 days, 18 hours, 37 minutes, 54 seconds
Orbital Insertion Altitude: 122 nautical miles
Orbit Inclination: 51.60°

Rocket's Red Glare
Space Shuttle Discovery launches into space on mission STS-121 Image above: Under clear blue skies, the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-121 kicks off the fireworks for the U.S. holiday. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray + View High-res

On July 4, 2006, with a rocket's red glare, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in a spectacular display of sound and light befitting of Independence Day.

Commanded by Steven Lindsey, Discovery and its crew of seven astronauts roared from Launch Pad 39B to begin a 15,000-mph chase to rendezvous with the International Space Station.

As Discovery raced into the bright blue sky, cheers and applause erupted across Kennedy and along the nearby beaches of Florida's Space Coast.

Discovery's Home
Discovery slows to a stop after landing at NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility. Image above: Discovery slows to a stop after landing on Runway 15 at NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility, completing mission STS-121. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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Space Shuttle Discovery made a picture-perfect touchdown at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida at 9:14 a.m. EDT. Commander Steven Lindsey and Pilot Mark Kelly guided the ship as it made its 17,000 mph descent from space. The landing completes a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

Photo Galleries:
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+ Landing Images

Discovery touches down at NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility.
Discovery's Mission Accomplished
A picture-perfect landing returns the STS-121 Discovery astronauts safely to Earth after a successful mission to the International Space Station.
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Launch managers working at their computer consoles.
New Launch Control Room Ready for STS-121 Liftoff
NASA's new Firing Room 4 to debut with flight of Discovery.
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Bird hits Discovery's external tank duirng 2005 launch.
Bye Bye, Birdies
New avian radar will track vultures prior to liftoff.
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Discovery crew at launch pad 39B.
Testing the Discovery Crew
During the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test at Kennedy, the STS-121 crew practiced activities and countdown procedures for the upcoming launch.
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Discovery being processed for STS-121 in the Orbiter Processing Facility.
Discovery: Then and Now
Times change, people change, and even orbiters and astronauts change.
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Crew of STS-121 pictued in front of the VAB
STS-121 Crew Gets 'Hands-On' Look at Discovery
The two-day event at Kennedy gave mission astronauts a chance to handle the hardware.
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Mission Control Center:
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Discovery touches down on Runway 15
Discovery glides to a picture-perfect landing at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility, successfully concluding the STS-121 mission.
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STS-121 in Pictures
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STS-121 EVA 3
Third Spacewalk Highlights
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President Bush calls shuttle and station crews
President Bush Phones Discovery Crew
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STS-121 Spacewalk
Second Spacewalk Highlights
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Right forward SRB camera
STS-121 Right Forward Solid Rocket Booster Video
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STS-121 and Expedition 13 Crews
Joint Crew News Conference Highlights
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SRB Separation
Solid Rocket Booster Separation
A camera on one of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters captures this amazing view of Discovery.
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Last Updated: October 14, 2006
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