Despite predictions of bad weather, the shuttle Atlantis did launch yesterday–and it was nearly a flawless affair. Some two minutes after yesterday’s liftoff, at least three pieces of foam or other debris fell off the shuttle, and now the crew is preparing to inspect the outside of the ship for signs of damage, especially the wings and nose.

The shuttle, which was delayed for two months, will reach the International Space Station tomorrow and deliver the $2 billion Columbus laboratory, a major step towards the eventual completion of the massive rig.