They stared at their screens and held back. No applause when the space shuttle Discovery lifted off, none when it passed 73 seconds into flight. None until they were sure it was OK.
Not until 2 minutes and 4 seconds into flight, when Discovery separated from the solid rocket boosters, did flight directors inside Mission Control break into applause.It was the boosters that caused the Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986.
The room was quiet when Discovery lifted off. After the applause for the solid rocket booster separation, it fell quiet again until the main engines cut off. Then more cheers.
"We're going into space," said public information officer Jeff Carr.