Photos: Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Lift Off

The penultimate shuttle launch is set for 8:56 am EST

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Updated: the Endeavour has officially blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center, all three engines were reported "in good shape" as of 9:03 am EST. The first photos from the launch are below the live feed:

Original Post:

Today's the day: the long-delayed launch of the Endeavour is set for 8:56 am EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After wrestling with several weeks of technical glitches after a hydraulic system failure scrubbed the mission on April 29, NASA has once again given the green-light. And with it, the crowds, TV cameras and web viewers (live stream embedded below) are set to return.

While the tourist levels at last month's launch were originally said to top 700,000, the space agency is still expecting robust crowds of 500,000 to attend the second-to-last launch of the space shuttle era (the craft scheduled to be last, Atlantis, is currently set to launch in July). The highest-profile attendee, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, arrived on Sunday at the Kennedy Space Center to see off her husband, NASA commander Mark Kelly.

"The system looks good, the weather looks good, and we should be in good shape for launch," Mike Moses, NASA launch integration manager, told CNN. "In our minds, we are good to go." Watch the countdown, and the lift-off:

Photos of the Launch:

Images by Associated Press

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