NASA's space shuttle Endeavor lifted-off for the last time this morning in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch took place at 8:56 am from launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center, after some initial delays and mechanical problems that postponed the launch for two weeks. This is the 25th and final liftoff for Endeavor, as well at the second-to-last launch ever, as NASA is changing the way they do things after 3o years:

NASA is winding down its 30-year-old shuttle program before embarking on something new. The event generated the kind of excitement seldom seen on Florida's Space Coast on such a grand scale.

Among the shuttle attendees was Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords husband, Mark Kelly, who is the shuttles mission commander. Giffords is still recovering from her January 8 gun shot wound to the head, but she was well enough to watch her husband take off after they had said their temporary goodbyes.

With Kelly at the helm, Endeavour and its experienced crew of five Americans and an Italian are headed for the International Space Station. They will arrive at the orbiting outpost Wednesday, delivering a $2 billion magnetic instrument that will seek out antimatter and dark energy in the universe.

Kelly made several inspirational statements during the liftoff, including "liftoff for the final launch of Endeavor. Expanding our knowledge, expanding our lives in space." The mission will last for 16 days.

The final launch for NASA will take place next month with the space shuttle Atlantis.