The shuttle Atlantis has been launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, as part of a mission to resume construction of the International Space Station. The shuttle is carrying six astronauts on a mission expected to last 11 days. The flight had been postponed for nearly two weeks because of bad weather and technical problems. Travelling at a speed of 27,000 kilometres an hour, the shuttle reached orbit 225 kilometres above the earth after about nine minutes.
The astronauts’ main task is to install a multi-million dollar solar power module on the space station. Construction came to a halt in February 2003 when the shuttle Colombia disintegrated over Texas.