NASA's space shuttle Discovery lifted into space yesterday on its final mission, after 27 years of duty.

Discovery launched at 3:53 pm from NASA's  Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  A last-minute glitch in a range-safety computer almost threatened  to abort the launch but was fixed just minutes before lift-off.

NASA said a record crowed, estimated at 40,000, watched the launch. Discovery will deliver critical supplies to the International Space Station, including hardware, a storage module and a humanoid robot assistant called Robonaut 2,  a first in space.

The shuttle is expected to dock with the Space Station Saturday afternoon.  After it returns to Earth, Discovery will take up residence at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington.