Endeavour roared into orbit Saturday with a slew of animals and a history-making crew: first married couple in space, first black woman in space, and first Japanese to fly on a United States spaceship.

"I gotta tell ya, this is a great way to commute to work," astronaut Jay Apt said two hours into the flight.

Packed securely in the shuttle were two fish, four frogs, 180 hornets, 7,600 flies, and 30 fertilized chicken eggs, the subjects of the research mission.

It was the first time since 1985 that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched a shuttle on the appointed day at the appointed moment.

Endeavour's flight also is the first US space mission devoted to Japanese research.

The National Space Development Agency of Japan supplied 34 of the 43 Spacelab experiments. The US has seven experiments. Two tests are shared.

Japan contributed $90 million of the NASA-estimated $363 million mission costs.

The ship is scheduled to land Saturday.

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