Endeavour Sails Again on April 19th
Named after the British science vessel HMS Endeavour, the Space Shuttle Endeavour has made its mark on history.
Endeavour replaced the Space Shuttle Challenger after the main tank exploded during launch on January 28th, 1989. I wish I could think of Endeavour without thinking of Challenger, but I can’t. I watched that Challenger launch live on TV and that image is indelibly printed in my brain. However, such reminiscing isn’t fair to Endeavour or her crews.
Subsequent to its late construction, Endeavour has had the shortest career of all of the shuttles.
Rockwell International built several key design improvements into Endeavour which were later added to the rest of the orbiters.
In 1993, Endeavour performed the first service mission for the Hubble Space Telescope to correct a critical flaw in its construction.
STS133 was originally slated to be the last shuttle flight, however certain equipment needed by the International Space Station wasn’t ready in time to fly on Discovery, so NASA added STS134 to the schedule.
Whether or not you live near Kennedy Space Center, if you have always wanted to watch a shuttle launch and never taken the opportunity, you’d better hurry. Endeavour is planned to sail on April 19th and after that Atlantis will fly STS135 later this year for the last ever shuttle flight.
In related news, Russia has raised the price-per-person for lifting our astronauts to the International Space Station from around $56 million to around $63 million starting in 2014. Hopefully, commercial space will sufficiently develop soon so that we won’t have to launch from Russia too much.
- Shuttle Endeavour Moves to Launch Pad for Final Mission (space.com)
- Space shuttle worker killed in fall at U.S. launchpad (reuters.com)
- “Shuttle Endeavour Readied for April 19 Launch with Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer” and related posts (spaceports.blogspot.com)
- Space Shuttle Endeavour to Make Last Launch Pad Move as Discovery Returns Home (space.com)