Thursday, April 28, 2011

NASA's Youngest Shuttle

NASA's youngest orbiter, born from a tragedy, Endeavour made its debut on April 25, 1991, as it was rolled out from Rockwell's construction hangar in Palmdale, Calif. The fifth and last of the U.S. space agency's reusable winged spacecraft to enter the shuttle fleet, Endeavour arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida a month later.

In the two decades since, Endeavour has left its mark on history, saving the Hubble Space Telescope, giving birth to the International Space Station (ISS), and completing a mission begun by the fallen shuttle it was built to replace. It also launched the first African-American woman and the first married couple. Now it is set to fly one last mission to the ISS to deliver a state-of-the-art experiment, a crowning achievement for an accomplished spacecraft. "Since Endeavour's first flight to this flight, it's had a really outstanding career," said Capt. Mark Kelly, commander of Endeavour's final mission, after arriving April 27 in Florida for the orbiter's last launch.

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