On Friday, Sept. 21 during lunch, students and faculty members gathered on Booth Field to take advantage of a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to see the space shuttle Endeavour take it’s retirement flight over California. Despite the many visual obstacles, such as trees and buildings, a feeling of awe and amazement swept through the screaming students and faculty who managed to see the space shuttle being carried around on the modified jumbo jet Boeing 747. But what really is the amazing Endeavour?
The space shuttle Endeavour is one of NASA’s three surviving SPACE shuttles, whose first flight was to capture an Intelsat VI satellite and attach it to a new upper stage for orbit in May 1992 and whose last flight was to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station in May 2011. Overall, the Endeavour managed to survive 25 missions before retirement, which is impressive for a space shuttle. It was built as a replacement for the space shuttle Challenger after that one’s tragic launch accident 1986. The Endeavour is spelled the British way instead of the American English way (Endeavor) because it was named after the HMS Bark Endeavour, which took Captain James Cook, a British navigator, explorer, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy, on his first voyage of discovery to the South Pacific Ocean. The name was actually chosen through a national competition for elementary and middle-school children, who had to write an essay on a name that they chose, the story behind their chosen name and why it was appropriate for a NASA space shuttle. The most popular name of the state-level winning entries was the name Endeavour.
Now it has been over a year since the space shuttle’s last mission. After landing from its last flight over California, the Endeavour was scheduled for a road-trip to the California Science Center in early October. However, residents of the area are upset since 400 trees have had to be cut down to make room for the space shuttle’s 78-foot wingspan. Museum officials have promised to plant at least double the amount of trees that were cut down to make up for the loss.
Trees weren’t the only problem. On Friday, the Endeavour’s flight caused major traffic as drivers slowed to watch the space shuttle and take pictures. The traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge crawled along especially slowly as the Endeavour flew over San Francisco.
For the next few weeks after its aerial tour over California, the space shuttle Endeavour will stay at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) until it is unloaded from the Boeing 747, which could take some weeks to accomplish, and is ready for its road trip. If you didn’t get a chance to see it in flight, don’t fret. The Endeavour will be on display at the California Science Center, where you can see it in all its glory, starting Oct. 30.