1. Endeavour is the youngest orbiter, the space shuttle made of spare parts to replace Challenger. Building this new orbiter was deemed less expensive than updating Enterprise for spaceflight.
2. Endeavour takes its name—and British spelling—from the ship upon which Captain James Cook first set out to chart the globe. American schoolchildren weighed in on the selection of this name.
3. Endeavour’s first flight was STS-49 in 1992. Lofty Ambitions spoke with Astronaut Kathy Thornton, for whom STS-49 was her second space shuttle flight. The mission involved capturing and repairing a satellite, a task that, for the first time, required Extra-Vehicular Activity—EVA or a spacewalk—by three astronauts and the longest EVA at the time, a record that stood until 2007.
4. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman in space on Endeavour’s second flight, STS-47 in 1992.
5. Endeavour performed the first Hubble Telescope repair mission in 1993. STS-61 gave the space shuttle program a purpose, for there existed no other good way that most in-space repairs could be performed safely and consistently.
6. In 1998, Endeavour delivered the Unity Module to orbit and attached it to a Russian module already there, thus beginning construction of the International Space Station.
7. Twelve of Endeavour’s last thirteen missions were to build and service the International Space Station. Endeavour delivered Canadarm 2 (a robotic arm) and the Japanese Kibo Module (a science laboratory) and exchanged numerous ISS crew members over the years.
8. The first time we saw Endeavour in person was in November 2008, when it landed at Edwards Air Force Base at the conclusion of STS-126. The orbiter landed on Runway 4, a temporary landing site during the refurbishment of the main runway. No wonder we weren’t sure where to look as it approached.
9. Endeavour last flew in May 2011. STS-134 was the orbiter’s 25th mission and was commanded by Mark Kelly, whose wife, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, had been shot that January. Among the mission’s accomplishments was the delivery of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 to the International Space Station. Lofty Ambitions was at Kennedy Space Center for that last launch of Endeavour.
10. On Friday and Saturday, Endeavour will move over city streets from LAX to the California Science Center. Hundreds of trees have been cut down (and will be replaced two for one with young trees) along the route, and signs and wires will be removed and replaced quickly. What Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa once touted as “the mother of all parades” is now “a route” expected to have limited sidewalk viewing because of security and safety concerns. Stay tuned to see whether, by Saturday night, Endeavour rests in its new home.
See all our posts in this “I Remember California” series HERE.