The Replacement Shuttle

Endeavour, NASA's fifth and final Orbiter, was named after the British vessel HMS Endeavour which Captain Cook sailed on his voyage of discovery. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger that was lost in 1986 and went on to complete 25 missions including 12 to the International Space Station!


Interesting Facts About The Space Shuttle Endeavour!

  • Following the loss of Challenger, NASA needed to build a replacement. Originally one idea was to fit-out the Enterprise, but that would prove too expensive so was constructing a completely new Shuttle. The decision was taken to built Endeavour utlising spares built during the construction of Discovery and Atlantis.
  • Finally the Endeavour Shuttle was rolled out by its maker (Rockwell International) who built the other Orbiters in May 1991 with a construction cost of US$2.2 billion!!
  • On account that Endeavour was built several years after the other Shuttles it benefitted from new additions such as the 12 m diameter drag chute which was designed to reduce the orbiter's rollout distance once landed, bringing it to a stop sooner.
  • Endeavour was selected to perform the first servicing mission (STS-61) to the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993 to repair defects in the optical lenses which had almost rendered Hubble useless.
  • Endeavour delivered the Unity Module to the International Space Station (ISS) in 1998 which would be the first American component and one of 37 missions made by Shuttles to the ISS.
  • The Orbiter underwent several upgrades during its service life to upgrade its hardware giving the Shuttle new multi-functional, electronic display system (commonly referred to as a glass cockpit) an advanced GPS receiver along with safety upgrades.
  • Another of the Endeavour upgrades was the installation of the Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS), which utilized power from the ISS meaning Endeavour could remain on-orbit and docked at the station for an additional 3- to 4-days as it would have more power for its systems.
  • During Endeavour's last mission, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft paused, as it departed the station, to take what are now iconic pictures of Endeavour docked to the ISS. You can see this picture below in the gallery!
  • STS-134 would be the final mission for Endeavour and its 12th and final mission to the ISS after which it was formally decommissioned. By the time the Shuttle landed for the final time, Endeavour had flown a total of near 123 million miles and spent 296 days in space.
  • After decommissioning the Shuttle, NASA had to decided where Endeavour would be placed on display. It was decided it would go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles but it would need to be driven through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood first to get there!
  • Eventually from 2018 onwards Endeavour is going to be displayed in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, where the final Orbiter to be built will be mounted vertically to an orange external tank with a pair of solid rocket boosters to replicate the launch configuration! A must see if you’re in Los Angeles!
previous arrow
next arrow
previous arrownext arrow