Friday, September 7, 2012

Endeavour's Final Endeavour


Parade route alert! Tons of breaking news this past week about Space Shuttle Endeavour has both delighted and enraged people everywhere, as word of her retirement flight was released; some are anxious to see the flyovers, display stops and final crawl; others are upset over how many trees in Los Angeles were cut down along her intended rolling path... (400 will be removed due to the wingspan, 800 will be re-planted).

Space Shuttle Endeavour Los Angeles Parade Route
Click to Embiggen

For better or worse, the trees are down, the stoplights and road signs will also be temporarily removed, power lines are being raised, and the spacecraft will soon be on her way.

Endeavour will perform flyovers of no less than 7 NASA centers! They are, in order, her departure point, NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Stennis in Mississippi, NASA Michoud Assembly Facility outside New Orleans, Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, NASA Ames Research Center and NASA Dryden Flight Center in California, and finally, a visibility run over the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in SoCal before landing a LAX. Quite the cross-country spread!

The schedule looks packed and long, but of course it's just a fraction of her time spent in space. Her final mission will definitely be her shortest.

Shuttle Endeavour
Some fun facts about this fifth and last-created Orbital Vehicle:

Endeavour, always spelled with a "u", was named after H.M.S. Endeavour, the three-masted barque commanded by Britain's James Cook on his epic 18th-century South Pacific voyage.

Endeavour's first mission was in 1992. Her second mission was a huge sociological milestone for NASA later in the same year: the crew included Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut, Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese astronaut, and Jan Davis & Mark Lee, the first (and still only) married couple to fly on any space mission.

Space Shuttle Endeavour
Via school essay competitions about historical vessels, Space Shuttle Endeavour is the only Space Shuttle to have been named by children.

Endeavour was the Shuttle that first visited the Hubble Space telescope, to fix initial problems with optics.

Overall, Endeavour flew 25 flights total, the last being STS-134 in May of 2011. She is the third Space Shuttle to be flown to her retirement museum in the last year, the first two being the shuffles of Enterprise to New York, and Discovery to Washington DC.