The space shuttle Discovery lifted off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center early this morning, lighting up the pre-dawn sky as it roared toward the International Space Station on a re-supply mission (via The New York Times). Among the astronauts is Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a 1993 graduate of Fort Collins High School (via 9News). As a teenager, Metcalf-Lindenburger took second place in an essay contest, winning a T-shirt from NASA. The first prize was a free trip to Space Camp. Luckily, for Metcalf-Lindenburger, her parents sent her anyway. “I took away from that I wanted to work at NASA one day,” she says. She eventually became a teacher in Washington. Then, seven years ago, when a student asked how astronauts use the bathroom in space, she Googled the answer and stumbled upon an application for the Educator Astronaut program. Now 34, Metcalf-Lindenburger is the youngest active astronaut, but she didn’t think she’d be selected.

“I’m really excited about what this mission is going to be, and I’ll try to savor every moment,” says Metcalf-Lindenburger, who is married and has a three-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, Colorado is among the states set “to lose thousands of jobs and billions of dollars under a proposed shift in NASA’s budget,” writes The Denver Post (via the Vail Daily). Critics say state leaders lagged in their efforts to preserve jobs associated with the Orion spacecraft.