Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Baby of the Fleet


Yeah, go make the round of space web sites this week, and try to find one that doesn't feature a tribute to Space Shuttle Endeavour. G'head, try. ;)

Shuttle Endeavour
I've got a new special place in my heart for Orbiter Vehicle 105, because when she's done with her current 16-day voyage, she'll be coming to her new permanent retirement spot in my home state of California! Not that I am anxious for her to be finished, however; at various times over the next weeks, I'll be following the Endeavour crew's mission timeline, all due rapt attention!

This week it is my great pleasure to feature some original photographs of OV-105 Endeavour, the only space shuttle named by contest among school-children, taken during her final VAB rollout by DCist Managing Editor and Astronomy columnist Heather Goss, on her last trip to Cape Canaveral.

Yes... yet another Heather! This is my third as a guest... so just one more, and we have the official clique. And aren't these shots amazing!

Orbiter Vehicle Endeavour
is a hardened veteran, despite being the youngest orbiter, made largely by recycled parts from Discovery and Atlantis. She was responsible for the first Hubble servicing mission, which put the giant space telescope into use; and she delivered Unity, the first American module of the International Space Station.

Click on any picture here to see Heather's entire collection at Aviation Week, where you can also read her many space blog entries about all different NASA missions and directives.

Space Shuttle Endeavour
It's sad to think Endeavour will never be upright on a launch pad again, but we were all treated to a glorious penultimate launch yesterday morning, and as always, wish her for safe -- and final -- return to Earth.

All photos credited to Heather Goss, except for #4 from the NASA Archives.