The shuttle Discovery has launched on a mission to fit the International Space Station with a final pair of solar wings after a month-long delay.
The "beautiful" scene as Shuttle Discovery lifts off
The spacecraft launched in the early hours of Monday from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
It entered orbit just over eight minutes later, soaring at 17,500 miles per hour.
The journey to the International Space station is expected to take two days, where its seven-member crew will deliver and install the fourth and final pair of solar wings.
Once the Discovery mission installs the solar truss, the space station will become fully operational and capable of housing six astronauts, NASA said.
Mike Leinbach, launch director for the mission, described the lift-off as "visually beautiful".
He said: "It was just spectacular. When the orbiter and the tank booster got up in the sun light... it was just gorgeous."
The shuttle mission has been delayed five times since February.
Last week was the latest delay, when on Wednesday's planned launch a hydrogen leak was discovered when a tank was 98% full.