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Emily LakdawallaMay 31, 2008

Space Shuttle Discovery just lifted off successfully

It was a perfect launch for Discovery this afternoon. It's carrying the second half of the Japanese Kibo module to the International Space Station, so my congratulations go out to the Japanese for finally, at long last, seeing their laboratory fly. It's been a very long road for them.

Here's an interesting parenthetical note on Kibo. "Kibo" is translated from the Japanese as "Hope." However, "Nozomi" -- the name of their ill-fated Mars mission -- is also translated as "Hope." I asked Tak Iyori of The Planetary Society of Japan to explain if there was a slightly different meaning to the two words. He said that "Nozomi" is a stronger word than than "Kibo," with "Kibo" meaning "Hope" and "Nozomi" being better translated, perhaps, as "Wish" or "Desire."

Oh and yes, in answer to a friend's question, this is the shuttle launch carrying the parts necessary to fix the space station toilet!

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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