Space shuttle Discovery blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday on its final mission carrying supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station.

Discovery roared off the launch pad at 4:53 p.m. EST (2153 GMT), with a six-member crew.

NASA plans to retire its shuttle program this year after two other spaceships in the shuttle fleet, Endeavour and Atlantis, make their last flights in the coming months.