Endeavour Shuttle Missions

By Monica Mahajan

Background

Endeavour was a successful space shuttle, built as a replacement for the space shuttle Challenger. It was named after the first ship commanded by James Cook, who was a British explorer, astronomer, and navigator in the 1800s. Endeavour was named through a competition in the U.S. for students in elementary and secondary schools.

First Mission

Endeavour's first launch (which was so successful, NASA decided to extend the trip two days longer) was on May 7th, 1992. The most important assignment was to replace Intelsat VI's- a communication satellite that was orbiting, but not functioning- rocket motor. Endeavour, which was not designed to capture the satellite, had to be repaired.
It took three attempts to retrieve Intelsat VI. While in space, the STS-49 crew was busy. They conducted medical tests that tested the human body's performance in microgravity and also recorded footage for an educational video. This was the first time four spacewalks were directed on a space shutttle mission, one being the longest, lasting more than eight hours.

Firsts in History

Endeavour's missions were filled with many firsts. The space shuttle became the first to use a drag chute during landing, the first time four spacewalks were conducted on a space shuttle mission, and many more. Many improvements and modifications were also made to Endeavour.

Today...

Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited the Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles. Its last flight was on May 16th, 2011. Today, Endeavour is on display in the California Space Center.