Image: Space shuttle Endeavour

Science News

The life of space shuttle Endeavour

Click through highlights from the space shuttle Endeavour's two decades of service.

 / Updated 29 PHOTOS
Endeavour Goes to Florida May 2, 1991.
NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft No. 911, with the space shuttle orbiter Endeavour securely mounted atop its fuselage, taxies to the runway to begin the ferry flight from Rockwell's Plant 42 at Palmdale, California, where the orbiter was built, to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. At Kennedy, the space vehicle was processed and launched on orbital mission STS-49, which landed at NASA's Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility (later redesignated Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California. NASA 911, the second modified 747 that went into service in November 1990, has special support struts atop the fuselage and internal strengthening to accommodate the added weight of the orbiters.

Special delivery

Endeavour was the last space shuttle to join NASA's fleet: It was built to replace the shuttle Challenger, which was lost in an explosion shortly after launch in 1986. This view shows Endeavour perched atop a modified Boeing 747 on May 2, 1991, beginning the ferry flight from Palmdale, Calif. - where the shuttle was built - to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

  • Share

First liftoff

Endeavour lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 7, 1992, beginning its first mission. The STS-49 mission's primary task was the repair of the Intelsat VI telecommunications satellite. Endeavour was the only shuttle to make its maiden flight from Pad 39B.

  • Share
Mission Specialists Richard J. Hieb (from left), Thomas D. Akers, and Pierre J. Thuot hold onto the 4.5 ton International Telecommunications Organization Satellite (INTELSAT) VI after a six-handed "capture" was made minutes earlier on May 13, 1992, during the mission's third extravehicular activity. STS-49 was the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The primary goal of its nine-day mission was to retrieve the Intelsat VI satellite, which failed to leave low earth orbit two years before, attach it to a new upper stage, and relaunch it to its intended geosynchronous orbit. After several attempts, the capture was completed with a three-person extra-vehicular activity, the first time that three people from the same spacecraft walked in space at the same time. It would also stand until STS-102 in 2001 as the longest EVA ever undertaken.

Grab that satellite!

Endeavour astronauts Richard Hieb, Thomas Akers and Pierre Thuot hold onto the 4.5-ton Intelsat VI satellite after making a six-handed "capture" on May 13, 1992. The satellite failed to rise above low Earth orbit when it was launched in 1990. During Endeavour's maiden mission, astronauts retrieved the satellite, attached it to a new upper-stage booster and relaunched it to its intended geosynchronous orbit. This mission marked the first time that three people from the same spacecraft walked in space at the same time.

  • Share
Astronauts Dr. N. Jan Davis, left, and Dr. Mae C. Jemison prepare to deploy the lower body negative pressure apparatus on Sept. 15, 1992. Photo taken in the science module aboard the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Endeavor during STS-47. The Spacelab-J mission was a joint effort between Japan and the United States.

Science in space

Endeavour astronauts Jan Davis, left, and Mae Jemison prepare to deploy the lower body negative pressure apparatus on Sept. 15, 1992. Scientific research was the main focus of this Spacelab-J mission, also known as STS-47. The mission's crew included the first African-American woman to fly in space (Mae Jemison) and the only husband-and-wife team to go into space together (Jan Davis and Mark Lee).

  • Share
In December of 1993 astronauts Story Musgrave and Jeffrey Hoffman performed the orbiting repairmans' ballet 400 miles above the Earth. They are seen in this photo perched at the end of the Space Shuttle Endeavour's robotic arm making final repairs to the four story tall Hubble Space Telescope. The coast line of western Australia is visible below. The complex and highly successful repair mission allowed HST to see into the Universe with unprecedented clarity.

Fixing Hubble

Astronauts flew on Endeavour to take on the first Hubble servicing mission in December 1993. In this picture, spacewalkers Story Musgrave and Jeffrey Hoffman perform an orbital ballet. The coastline of western Australia is visible below. The complex and highly successful repair mission allowed Hubble, which was launched with a defective mirror, to see into the universe with unprecedented clarity.

  • Share
US space shuttle Endeavour crewmember Jim Newman g

Building the station

Endeavour spacewalker Jim Newman holds onto the International Space Station's Unity connecting module as he removes covers and works on connecting cables on Dec. 7, 1998. The STS-88 flight marked the shuttle fleet's first space station assembly mission.

Afp / AFP
  • Share
Space Shuttle Endeavor Is Rolled Out To Launch Pad

Erroneous endeavor

The shuttle Endeavour sits on its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 11, 2007. "Endeavor" is spelled incorrectly on the banner. The shuttle was named after the HMS Endeavour, the British sailing ship that carried Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery from 1768 to 1771. That's why Endeavour reflects the British spelling of the word.

Eliot J. Schechter / Getty Images North America
  • Share
Man at Work: In the first spacewalk of the STS-118 mission, astronaut Rick Mastracchio and the Canadian Space Agency's Dave Williams (out of frame) attached the Starboard 5 segment of the International Space Station's truss and retracted the forward heat-rejecting radiator from the Port 6 truss.

Spacewalkers at work

During the first spacewalk of the STS-118 mission, on Aug. 11, 2007, astronaut Rick Mastracchio and Canada's Dave Williams (out of frame) attach a new segment of the International Space Station's truss and retract a collapsible radiator.

  • Share
The STS-118 crew pose for their official portrait on Aug. 8, 2007. Rick Mastracchio, from left, Barbara R. Morgan, pilot Charles Hobaugh, mission commander Scott Kelly, Tracy Caldwell, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dave Williams and Alvin Drew.

Class portrait

The crew members of Endeavour's STS-118 crew pose for their official portrait on Aug. 8, 2007. From left are Rick Mastracchio, Barbara Morgan, pilot Charles Hobaugh, mission commander Scott Kelly, Tracy Caldwell, Canadian astronaut Dave Williams and Alvin Drew. During this flight, Morgan became the first educator astronaut to go into orbit. In 1986, she was the backup for Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire teacher who died in the Challenger explosion.

  • Share
Constructing the Future 15aug2007

During the third spacewalk astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson (out of frame) relocated the S-Band Antenna Sub-Assembly from Port 6 (P6) to Port 1 (P1) truss, installed a new transponder on P1 and retrieved the P6 transponder.

Great view

Endeavour spacewalker Rick Mastracchio relocates communications equipment on the International Space Station during an outing on Aug. 15, 2007.

  • Share
Image:

A gouge in the tiles

Tiles on the underside of the space shuttle Endeavour show evidence of damage in a photo taken on Aug. 12, 2007, using the shuttle's robotic arm and a camera-tipped extension boom. The close-up imagery helped mission managers determine that the gouge would pose no threat during Endeavour's atmospheric re-entry.

NASA
  • Share
<HTML><META HTTP-EQUIV="content-type" CONTENT="text/html;charset=utf-8">
S118-E-07919 (18 Aug. 2007) --- A still photo close-up of the eye of Category 4 
Hurricane Dean. Crewmembers on the Space Shuttle Endeavour captured this image 
around Noon CDT of Hurricane Dean in the Caribbean. At the time the shuttle and 
International Space Station passed overhead, the Category 4 storm was moving 
westerly at 17 mph nearing Jamaica carrying sustained winds of 150 mph.

Eye of the hurricane

Crew members aboard the shuttle Endeavour captured this picture of Hurricane Dean's eye in the Caribbean on Aug. 18, 2007. The STS-118 mission ended on Aug. 21, one day earlier than planned, to avoid potential complications due to the storm. Forecasters worried that Hurricane Dean could have swept over Houston around the time of landing - but in the end, the storm took a different course.

  • Share
Launch Control in Florida Nov. 14, 2008 - 
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin watches the lift off of space shuttle Endeavour from the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

In control

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin watches the liftoff of the space shuttle Endeavour from the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Nov. 14, 2008. The STS-126 mission delivered two spare bedrooms as well as a second kitchen and bathroom to the International Space Station.

Bill Ingalls
  • Share
Repair at the Pad
Image credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs
June 14, 2009
On Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, workers prepare to remove the 7-inch quick disconnect and flight seal from the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate on space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank. A leak of hydrogen at the location during tanking for the STS-127 mission caused the mission to be scrubbed at 12:26 a.m. on June 13. 

Image credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs
June 14, 2009

Repairs at the pad

Workers perform repairs on the shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad on June 14, 2009. The launch team detected a leak of hydrogen fuel from the tank, forcing a delay in Endeavour's STS-127 launch. The mission's main task was the delivery of the final segment of Japan's Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station.

  • Share
Image: Space Shuttle Launch Delayed by Lightning

Lightning strikes

A giant bolt of lightning hits Endeavour's Florida launch pad on July 10, 2009. Technical problems and severe weather forced five delays in Endeavour's STS-127 launch.

Gene Blevins / Los Angeles Daily News
  • Share
Liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavour
Billows of smoke and steam infused with the fiery light from space shuttle Endeavour's launch on the STS-127 mission fill NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A.

Endeavour lifted off on the mission's sixth launch attempt, on July 15, 2009 at 6:03 p.m. EDT.

July 15, 2009
Photo credit: NASA/Sandra Joseph, Kevin O'Connell

Liftoff at last!

The space shuttle Endeavour rises from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A on July 15, 2009, on the STS-127 mission's sixth launch attempt.

  • Share
<HTML><META HTTP-EQUIV="content-type" CONTENT="text/html;charset=utf-8">

<H3>Flight Day 14</H3>
<P>Backdropped by Earth, space shuttle Endeavour is photographed by an 
Expedition 20 crew member onboard the International Space Station soon after the 
shuttle undocked from the station. A Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station is 
visible in the foreground.<BR><BR>Image credit: NASA <BR>July 28, 2009<BR></P>

Parting glance

The space shuttle Endeavour is photographed from the International Space Station soon after its departure on July 28, 2009. A Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station is visible in the foreground.

  • Share
Image:

Twilight of the shuttle

The shuttle Endeavour is silhouetted against different layers of the sunlit atmosphere during its approach to the International Space Station on Feb. 9, 2010. The primary payloads for Endeavour's STS-130 mission were the Tranquility module and the Cupola observation deck and control station.

  • Share
Image:

Check out this view!

Astronaut George Zamka, Endeavour's commander for the STS-130 mission, peeks out a window of the International Space Station's newly installed Cupola observation deck on Feb. 19, 2010. The Cupola provides an unparalleled view of Earth below.

  • Share
Image:

Tanks for the memories

The external fuel tank for Endeavour's final mission, STS-134, is transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 14, 2010. STS-134's main payload is the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an international physics experiment.

John Raoux / AP
  • Share
STS-134 Readied For Launch

The view from above

The space shuttle Endeavour is lowered into place for attachment to its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 1, 2011.

Nasa / Getty Images North America
  • Share
Image: Space Shuttle Endeavour Moved To Launch Pad Ahead Of Final Flight

Greeting the day

The sun rises as photographers gather on a hill to take pictures shortly after the shuttle Endeavour's arrival at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A on March 11, 2011.

Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images North America
  • Share
Image: LAUNCH DAY SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR

Into the clouds

Photographers track the space shuttle Endeavour's ascent as it pierces the clouds and disappears after launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 16.

Craig Rubadoux / Daytona Beach News-Journal
  • Share
Image: Spectators react as the space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Godspeed, Endeavour!

Spectators react as the space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 16. Hundreds of thousands of people watched the start of the next-to-last space shuttle flight.

Scott Audette / X01879
  • Share
Image:

Above the clouds

Stefanie Gordon captured this remarkable picture of the space shuttle Endeavour rising above Florida's cloud cover on May 16 while she was on a commercial flight from New York to Palm Beach, Fla.

  • Share
Image: Space Shuttle Endeavour In Space

The last spacewalk

NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff holds a handrail during the fourth and last spacewalk conducted by the shuttle Endeavour's crew at the International Space Station on May 27. Chamitoff and astronaut Michael Fincke (visible in the reflections from Chamitoff's helmet visor) transferred an inspection boom system, completing U.S. assembly of the station. The May 27 outing marked the last scheduled spacewalk to be conducted by a space shuttle crew.

Nasa T.v./handout / NASA HO
  • Share
Image: Backdropped by a night time view of the Earth and the starry sky, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is seen docked to the International Space Station

Night passage

Backdropped by a nighttime view of Earth and the starry sky, the space shuttle Endeavour is seen docked to the International Space Station on May 28.

X00653
  • Share
Image: Space shuttle Endeavour lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral

Landing in the dark

The space shuttle Endeavour lands for the last time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 1, 2011. The touchdown capped Endeavour's 16-day mission to deliver a $2 billion science experiment to the International Space Station on NASA's next-to-last shuttle flight.

Joe Skipper / X00507
  • Share

Blastoff into history

A NASA poster pays tribute to Endeavour and its space missions over the past two decades. The shuttle is shown rising to orbit, with patches for each of its missions laid out in a spiral. The HMS Endeavour, which inspired the spaceship's name, is shown at lower right. At upper left, pictures of Endeavour are framed in the windows of the Cupola. The background image depicts the nebula NGC 602 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, which was first serviced by Endeavour in 1993.

  • Share
1/29