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Shuttle Discovery blasts off to space station

  • Story Highlights
  • Space shuttle Discovery launches just before midnight Friday
  • Discovery is scheduled to fly to international space station with a crew of seven
  • Logistics module, science experiments, Stephen Colbert treadmill also aboard
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(CNN) -- Space shuttle Discovery launched just before midnight Friday on a mission to the international space station.

Space shuttle Discovery lifts off late Friday from Kennedy Space Center in a photo from iReporter Alan Walters.

Space shuttle Discovery lifts off late Friday from Kennedy Space Center in a photo from iReporter Alan Walters.

The crew of seven astronauts includes a Mexican-American and one from Sweden. Another of those seven, Nicole Stott, will remain on the station as a flight engineer, while astronaut Timothy Kopra is to return home aboard the shuttle.

Also on board: The Leonardo logistics module, science experiments and the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT), named for fake newsman Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."

Colbert won an online poll conducted by NASA to name the newest space station compartment, but Colbert and the space agency compromised to give the moniker to the treadmill. The new compartment was given the name Tranquility.

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman said the treadmill is an essential addition to the space station. Video Watch shuttle launch »

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"We have the treadmill now to keep them healthy, which is really part of being able to come home in one piece. So it is an essential part," Coleman said. iReport.com: Discovery lights night sky

Discovery's liftoff, originally set for Tuesday, had been postponed three times -- first for bad weather, and twice more while mission managers checked out indications of a faulty valve.

All About Space Shuttle DiscoveryInternational Space Station

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