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Atlantis Lifts Off on Fourth Try

May 19, 2000

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Space shuttle Atlantis and seven astronauts blasted off today on a mission to fix the international space station, succeeding finally on their fourth launch try.

Atlantis rose from its seaside pad at daybreak as the space station sped over Eastern Europe. The shuttle is expected to catch up with the station early Sunday.

The space station needs Atlantis and its crew more than ever as more parts break and it slips lower and lower in orbit. NASA’s efforts to send the shuttle to the rescue in late April were foiled three days in a row by gusty wind. This time, the weather was perfect for flying; a nearly full moon glowed in the sky at the appointed 6:11 a.m. liftoff time.

Atlantis’ pilot, Scott Horowitz, turned out to be right when he held up a sign before crawling into the shuttle. The sign read: ″4th time is a Charm!″ Never mind that he’d scratched out ″3rd.″

``We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll,″ Horowitz called out.

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