of the Space Shuttle
Mixed Fleet Launch Schedule
Shuttle Reference Manual
Approach and Landing Tests
Shuttle Mission Archive Index
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
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 Rhode Island.
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 refered to as OV-105, for Orbiter Vehicle-105. Empty Weight
was 151,205 lbs at rollout and 172,000 lbs with main engines
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.
Start structural assembly
of Crew Module (yes 1982)
Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage
Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman
Start of Final Assembly
Completed final assembly
Rollout from Palmdale
Delivery to Kennedy Space Center
Flight Readiness Firing
First Flight (STS-49)
Discovery's Flights to