STS-116 launch. Space Shuttle Discovery launching from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, at 20:47 local time on 9 December 2006, on mission STS-116 to the International Space Station (ISS). The shuttle is mounted on its external tank (orange), supplemented by two booster rockets (white). The blue cones of light (lower right) are shockwaves produced in the exhaust gases of the shuttle's main engine, and are known as mach diamonds. Discovery carried seven astronauts to the ISS, to exchange ISS crew members and to continue the constructiion of the space station. STS-116, the 20th shuttle mission to the ISS, landed on 22 December 2006.
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