Space Shuttle Endeavour
By Marty McDowell/NASA
Endeavour, the newest addition to the four-orbiter
fleet, is named after the first ship commanded by James Cook, the 18th
century British explorer, navigator and astronomer. On Endeavour's maiden
voyage in August 1768, Cook sailed to the South Pacific (to observe and
record the infrequent event of the planet Venus passing between the Earth
and the sun). Determining the transit of Venus enabled early astronomers
to find the distance of the sun from the Earth, which then could be used
as a unit of measurement in calculating the parameters of the universe. In
1769, Cook was the first person to fully chart New Zealand (which was
previously visited in 1642 by the Dutchman Abel Tasman from the Dutch
province of Zeeland). Cook also surveyed the eastern coast of Australia ,
navigated the Great Barrier Reef and traveled to Hawaii.
Cook's voyage on the Endeavour also established the usefulness of
sending scientists on voyages of exploration. While sailing with Cook,
naturalist Joseph Banks and Carl Solander collected many new families and
species of plants, and encountered numerous new species of animals.
Endeavour and her crew reportedly made the first long-distance voyage
on which no crewman died from scurvy, the dietary disease caused by lack
of ascorbic acids. Cook is credited with being the first captain to use
diet as a cure for scurvy, when he made his crew eat cress, sauerkraut and
an orange extract.
The Endeavour was small at about 368 tons, 100 feet in length and 20
feet in width. In contrast, its modern day namesake is 78 tons, 122 feet
in length and 78 feet wide. The Endeavour of Captain Cook's day had a
round bluff bow and a flat bottom. The ship's career ended on a reef along
For the first time, a national competition involving students in
elementary and secondary schools produced the name of the new orbiter; it
was announced by President George Bush in 1989. The Space Shuttle orbiter
Endeavour was delivered to Kennedy Space Center in May 1991, and flew its
first mission, highlighted by the dramatic rescue of a stranded
communications satellite, a year later in May 1992.
In the day-to-day world of Shuttle operations and processing, Space
Shuttle orbiters go by a more prosaic designation. Endeavour is commonly
referred to as OV-105, for Orbiter Vehicle-105. Empty Weight was 151,205
lbs at rollout and 172,000 lbs with main engines installed.
on 5-6-91, courtesy of NASA
Upgrades and Features
Endeavour features new hardware designed to improve and expand orbiter
capabilities. Most of this equipment was later incorporated into the other
three orbiters during out-of-service major inspection and modification
programs. Endeavour's upgrades include:
- A 40-foot diameter drag chute that is expected to reduce the
orbiter's rollout distance by 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
- The plumbing and electrical connections needed for Extended Duration
Orbiter (EDO) modifications to allow up to 28-day missions.
- Updated avionics systems that include advanced general purpose
computers, improved inertial measurement units and tactical air
navigation systems, enhanced master events controllers and
multiplexer-demultiplexers, a solid-state star tracker and improved
nose wheel steering mechanisms.
- An improved version of the Auxiliary Power Units (APU's) that
provide power to operate the Shuttle's hydraulic systems.
- 07/31/87 Contract Award
- 02/15/82 Start structural assembly of Crew Module (yes 1982)
- 09/28/87 Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage
- 12/22/87 Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman
- 08/01/87 Start of Final Assembly
- 07/06/90 Completed Final Assembly
- 04/25/91 Rollout from Palmdale
- 05/07/91 Delivery to Kennedy Space Center
- 04/06/92 Flight Readiness Firing
- 05/07/92 First Flight (STS-49)
The orbiter Endeavour underwent a 8-month Orbiter Maintenance Down
Period (OMDP) in Palmdale, CA. The most significant modification will be
in the installation of an external air lock making Endeavour capable of
docking with the International Space Station once construction begins late
1997. (Reference KSC Shuttle Status 7/30/1996).
Endeavour's Flights to date:
- 01. STS-49 (05/07/92)
- 02. STS-47 (09/12/92)
- 03. STS-54 (01/13/93)
- 04. STS-57 (6/21/93)
- 05. STS-61 (12/02/93)
- 06. STS-59 (04/09/94)
- 07. STS-68 (9/30/94)
- 08. STS-67 (3/02/95)
- 09. STS-69 (9/07/95)
- 10. STS-72 (1/11/96)
- 11. STS-77 (5/19/96)
Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch:
A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant
Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate
Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated
Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory
of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium,
Hawking, Stephen. The
Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace:
A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth
Kranz, Gene. Failure
Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond.
Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet,
Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos,
Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale
Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997
Space References (Videos):
Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets. BBC, 1999.
The Universe. A&E, 1996.