Long ago, we named our company after Captain Cook’s historic ship the Endeavour. The space shuttle Endeavour is named after the same old famous ship and for us down here, it is a major event every time the space shuttle caries our name and spirit to space.
Final frontier, as James T. Kirk used to call it.
Today, Endeavour space scuttle took off again in one of its last missions as the whole shuttles project will be terminated by the end of this year. The space shuttle Endeavour has set off for the International Space Station (ISS) on a repair mission and the video can be seen below.
The story of the NASA project is both unique and tragic. It has began some 40 years ago based on even earlier concepts of reusable space shuttles. Six Space Shuttle orbiters were built; the first, Enterprise, was used only for testing purposes. Five space-worthy orbiters were:
Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.
- On January 28, 1986, orbiter Challenger (OV-099) disintegrated 73 seconds after launch in a dreadful explosion well remembered by anyone who have ever seen it.
- On February 1st, 2003 Columbia was lost during reentry.
In both cases, NASA lost all astronauts and mission specialists onboard and went through a process that risked the entire project.
Endeavour was built as a replacement to Challenger. Columbia was never replaced.
Believe it or not but we are witnessing history in the making as the Shuttles project will be terminated by the end of the year. Further NASA projects will imitate the old way of taking off on a top of a missile and landing with parachutes into the sea, just like in the old Apollo program.
So space shuttles as we used to see them are terminating an era in space exploration and will not be replaced by reusable shuttles. It is impossible to evaluate how many people worldwide were touched by the ambitious NASA shuttles project. It started by a mass correspondence to the white house, by Star Trek series fans to change the first shuttle's name from Constitution to Enterprise and became part of all of us with its victories and failures. The tragedies affected our life.
I clearly remember myself as 18 years old teenager watching the documentary movie Hail Columbia at the Air & Space museum in Washington on a giant screen. It was an amazing movie and one of the only few I witnessed people cheering to a movie at the end of it.
Therefore, every time they take off, we hold our breath, together with all NASA employees and pray to see it landing safely.
This post is dedicated to the brave men and women who lost their life in this project and to their families. They made us so proud.
President Reagan said in the memorial service of Challenger:
" Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain".
Challenger: STS-51-L crew: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair. Ellison S. Onizuka, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, and Judy Resnik.
Columbia STS-107 crew: Rick D. Husband, William C. McCool, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, Laurel B. Clark and Ilan Ramon (Col. IAF) . (Pic by NASA).
- Columbia STS-107 official photo (by NASA)