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STS103-S-008 (19 December 1999) --- The Space Shuttle Discovery, framed by  Florida foliage, clears the launch structure and heads toward the clear night sky to begin the 96th mission in the STS program.   Liftoff occurred at 7:50 p.m. (EST), December 19, 1999, from Launch Pad 39B.  Onboard were astronauts Curtis L. Brown, Jr., Scott J. Kelly, Steven L. Smith, C. Michael Foale, John M. Grunsfeld, Claude Nicollier and Jean-Francois Clervoy.  Switzerland's Nicollier and France's Clervoy represent the European Space Agency (ESA). sts103-s-008

STS103-S-008 (19 December 1999) --- The Space Shuttle Discovery, framed by Florida foliage, clears the launch structure and heads toward the clear night sky to begin the 96th mission in the STS program. Liftoff occurred at 7:50 p.m. (EST), December 19, 1999, from Launch Pad 39B. Onboard were astronauts Curtis L. Brown, Jr., Scott J. Kelly, Steven L. Smith, C. Michael Foale, John M. Grunsfeld, Claude Nicollier and Jean-Francois Clervoy. Switzerland's Nicollier and France's Clervoy represent the European Space Agency (ESA). sts103-s-008

 
 
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STS103-S-008 (19 December 1999) --- The Space Shuttle Discovery, framed by Florida foliage, clears the launch structure and heads toward the clear night sky to begin the 96th mission in the STS program. Liftoff occurred at 7:50 p.m. (EST), December 19, 1999, from Launch Pad 39B. Onboard were astronauts Curtis L. Brown, Jr., Scott J. Kelly, Steven L. Smith, C. Michael Foale, John M. Grunsfeld, Claude Nicollier and Jean-Francois Clervoy. Switzerland's Nicollier and France's Clervoy represent the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.

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19/12/1999
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