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The space shuttle Atlantis lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Monday. (CREDIT: Michael Berrigan/Reuters)

The shuttle Atlantis successfully blasted off into orbit Monday towards the International Space Station, carrying 15 tons of critical spare parts and equipment.

Atlantis and its six-man crew launched as scheduled at 2:28 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission trip's purpose is to deliver equipment, including two gyroscopes, to the International Space Station.

NASA is focused on building up a reserve of spare parts on the space station in anticipation of the retirement of the space shuttle fleet.

Onboard was Colonel Hobaugh, Capt. Barry E. Wilmore, a Navy pilot, at the controls, and mission specialist's Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman, Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher.

They will return to Earth with a seventh crew member, Nicole Stott, who's been living at the space station for nearly three months.

Video: Raw Video: Lift Off for Space Shuttle Atlantis