Top view of a spaceplane above the Earth.
Endeavour in orbit in 2008, during STS-123
ClassSpace Shuttle orbiter
EponymHMS Endeavour
Serial no.OV-105
ManufacturerRockwell International
Dry mass78,000 kilograms (172,000 lb)
RocketSpace Shuttle
First flight
Last flight
Flight time7,179 hours
Travelled197,761,262 kilometres (122,883,151 mi) around Earth
Orbits4,671 around Earth
Space Shuttle orbiters

Space Shuttle Endeavour (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-105) is a retired orbiter from NASA's Space Shuttle program and the fifth and final operational Shuttle built. It embarked on its first mission, STS-49, in May 1992 and its 25th and final mission, STS-134, in May 2011.[1][2][3] STS-134 was expected to be the final mission of the Space Shuttle program,[4] but with the authorization of STS-135 by the United States Congress, Atlantis became the last shuttle to fly.

The United States Congress approved the construction of Endeavour in 1987 to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed in 1986.

NASA chose, on cost grounds, to build much of Endeavour from spare parts rather than refitting the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and used structural spares built during the construction of Discovery and Atlantis in its assembly.

The shuttle will soon be on display in the upcoming Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center at the California Science Center.


Endeavour rollout ceremony in April 1991
Endeavour as photographed from the International Space Station as it approached the station during STS-118
Endeavour appears to straddle the stratosphere and mesosphere in this 2010 photo taken from the International Space Station

Following the loss of Challenger, in 1986 NASA was authorized to begin the procurement process for a replacement orbiter. A major refit of the prototype orbiter Enterprise was looked at and rejected on cost grounds, with instead the cache of structural spares that were produced as part of the construction of Discovery and Atlantis earmarked for assembly into the new orbiter. Assembly was completed in July 1990, and the new orbiter was rolled out in April 1991. As part of the process, NASA ran a national competition for schools to name the new orbiter—the criteria included a requirement that it be named after an exploratory or research vessel, with a name "easily understood in the context of space"; entries included an essay about the name, the story behind it and why it was appropriate for a NASA shuttle, and the project that supported the name. Amongst the entries, Endeavour was suggested by one-third of the participating schools, with President George H.W. Bush eventually selecting it on the advice of the NASA Administrator, Richard Truly. The national winners were Senatobia Middle School in Senatobia, Mississippi, in the elementary division and Tallulah Falls School in Tallulah Falls, Georgia, in the upper school division. They were honored at several ceremonies in Washington, D.C., including a White House ceremony where President Bush presented awards to each school.[5] Endeavour was delivered by Rockwell International Space Transportation Systems Division in May 1991 and first launched a year later, in May 1992, on STS-49.

The orbiter is named after the British HMS Endeavour, the ship which took Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery (1768–1771).[6] This is why the name is spelled in the British English manner, rather than the American English ("Endeavor"). This has caused confusion, including when NASA itself misspelled a sign on the launch pad in 2007.[7] The Space Shuttle carried a piece of the original wood from Cook's ship inside the cockpit.[8] The name also honored Endeavour, the command module of Apollo 15, which was also named for Cook's ship.

On May 30, 2020, Dragon 2 capsule C206 was named Endeavour during the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission by astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in honor of the shuttle, on which both astronauts took their first flights (STS-127 and STS-123 respectively).


On its first mission, it captured and redeployed the stranded INTELSAT VI communications satellite. The first African-American woman astronaut, Mae Jemison, was launched into space on the mission STS-47 on September 12, 1992.

Endeavour flew the first servicing mission STS-61 for the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993. In 1997 it was withdrawn from service for eight months for a retrofit, including installation of a new airlock. In December 1998, it delivered the Unity Module to the International Space Station.

Endeavour's last Orbiter Major Modification period began in December 2003 and ended on October 6, 2005. During this time, Endeavour received major hardware upgrades, including a new, multi-functional, electronic display system, often referred to as a glass cockpit, and an advanced GPS receiver, along with safety upgrades recommended by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) for the shuttle's return to flight following the loss of Columbia during reentry on February 1, 2003.

The STS-118 mission, Endeavour's first since the refit, included astronaut Barbara Morgan, formerly assigned to the Teacher in Space project, and later a member of the Astronaut Corps from 1998 to 2008, as part of the crew. Morgan was the backup for Christa McAuliffe who was on the ill-fated mission STS-51-L in 1986.

Early milestones

Date Milestone[9]
1982 February 15 Start structural assembly of crew module (built as structural spare alongside Discovery and Atlantis)[10]
1987 July 31 Contract award to Rockwell International
1987 August 1 Start of Final Assembly
1987 September 28 Start structural assembly of aft fuselage
1990 July 6 Completed Final Assembly
1991 April 25 Rollout from Plant 42, Palmdale, California
1991 May 7 Delivery to Kennedy Space Center
1992 April 6 Flight Readiness Firing (FRF)
1992 May 7 First flight (STS-49)

Upgrades and features

Endeavour mounted on a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
Endeavour approaches LC-39A before STS-130
Endeavour in flight en route back to the Kennedy Space Center atop a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in 2008
Endeavour lands after STS-127 at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility

As it was constructed later than its elder sisters, Endeavour was built with 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:

Modifications resulting from a 2005–2006 refit of Endeavour included:

Final flights

Platforms around Endeavour in the Orbiter Processing Facility-2
Endeavour (left) docked to the International Space Station on May 23, 2011, during its final mission

Endeavour flew its final mission, STS-134, to the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2011. After the conclusion of STS-134, Endeavour was formally decommissioned.[14]

STS-134 was intended to launch in late 2010, but on July 1 NASA released a statement saying the Endeavour mission was rescheduled for February 27, 2011.[15]

"The target dates were adjusted because critical payload hardware for STS-133 will not be ready in time to support the previously planned 16 September launch," NASA said in a statement. With the Discovery launch moving to November, Endeavour mission "cannot fly as planned, so the next available launch window is in February 2011," NASA said, adding that the launch dates were subject to change.[16]

The launch was further postponed until April to avoid a scheduling conflict with a Russian supply vehicle heading for the International Space Station.[17] STS-134 did not launch until May 16 at 08:56 EDT.[18]

Endeavour landed at the Kennedy Space Center at 06:34 UTC on June 1, 2011, completing its final mission.[19] It was the 25th night landing of a shuttle.[20][21] Over its flight career, Endeavour flew 122,883,151 miles (197,761,262 km) and spent 299 days in space.[22] During Endeavour's last mission, the Russian spacecraft Soyuz TMA-20 departed from the ISS and paused at a distance of 200 metres (660 ft). Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli took a series of photographs and videos of the ISS with Endeavour docked.[23] This was the second time a shuttle was photographed docked and the first time since 1996. Commander Mark Kelly was the last astronaut off Endeavour after the landing, and the crew stayed on the landing strip to sign autographs and pose for pictures.[24]

STS-134 was the penultimate Space Shuttle mission; STS-135 was added to the schedule in January 2011, and in July Atlantis flew for the final time.[25]


# Date Designation Launch pad Landing location Notes
1 1992-05-07 STS-49 39-B Edwards Air Force Base First flight of Endeavour: Capture and redeploy Intelsat VI. First three-person EVA, longest US EVA since Apollo 17.
2 1992-09-12 STS-47 39-B Kennedy Space Center Spacelab mission J with the first African American woman in space, Mae Jemison
3 1993-01-13 STS-54 39-B Kennedy Deploy TDRS-F
4 1993-06-21 STS-57 39-B Kennedy Spacelab experiments. Retrieve European Retrievable Carrier
5 1993-12-02 STS-61 39-B Kennedy First Hubble Space Telescope service mission (HSM-1)
6 1994-04-09 STS-59 39-A Edwards Space Radar Laboratory experiments
Spaceborne Imaging Radar
7 1994-09-30 STS-68 39-A Edwards Space Radar Laboratory experiments
Spaceborne Imaging Radar
8 1995-03-02 STS-67 39-A Edwards Spacelab Astro-2 experiments‡
9 1995-09-07 STS-69 39-A Kennedy Wake Shield Facility and other experiments
10 1996-01-11 STS-72 39-B Kennedy Retrieve Japanese Space Flyer Unit
11 1996-05-19 STS-77 39-B Kennedy Spacelab experiments
12 1998-01-22 STS-89 39-A Kennedy Rendezvous with Mir space station and astronaut exchange
13 1998-12-04 STS-88 39-A Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission 2A (assembled the Unity Module (Node 1), first American component of the ISS)
14 2000-02-11 STS-99 39-A Kennedy Shuttle Radar Topography Mission experiments
15 2000-11-30 STS-97 39-B Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission (P6 truss segment)
16 2001-04-19 STS-100 39-A Edwards International Space Station assembly mission 6A (Canadarm2 robotic arm and hand)
17 2001-12-05 STS-108 39-B Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission UF-1, rendezvous and astronaut exchange (Expedition 3/Expedition 4)
18 2002-06-05 STS-111 39-A Edwards International Space Station assembly mission UF-2, rendezvous and astronaut exchange (Expedition 4/Expedition 5)
19 2002-11-23 STS-113 39-A Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission 11A and astronaut exchange/final successful shuttle flight before the Columbia disaster (Expedition 5/6 exchange; P1 truss segment assembly)
20 2007-08-08 STS-118 39-A Kennedy Four spacewalks conducted.[26] Installation of the International Space Station S5 Truss, of the Integrated Truss Structure. Carried a SPACEHAB module carrying 5,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. Crew included the Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan. Thermal tiles protecting the underside of the vehicle were damaged during launch. NASA decided not to fix this damage in-flight as it was not believed to be serious enough to result in loss of vehicle or crew. The craft landed a day early due to the possibility that Hurricane Dean would force Mission Control to evacuate.
21 2008-03-11 STS-123 39-A Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission 1J/A which delivered the first element of Japan's Kibo module along with the Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator robotic arm, and the Spacelab Pallet-Deployable 1.
22 2008-11-14 STS-126 39-A Edwards[27] International Space Station assembly mission that brought equipment and supplies in the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo, and Expedition 18 crew rotation, Sandra Magnus replaced Gregory Chamitoff. Endeavour was the only orbiter to land on the temporary Runway 4 at Edwards AFB, as the refurbished main runway will be operational from STS-119 onwards.[28]
23 2009-07-15[29] STS-127 39-A Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission which delivered the last two elements of Japan's Kibo Module along with the Spacelab Pallet-Deployable 2, and an Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable.[30]
24 2010-02-08 STS-130 39-A Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission which delivered the Node 3 and the Cupola observatory to the station. This brought the ISS to 98 percent completion.
25 2011-05-16 STS-134 39-A Kennedy International Space Station assembly mission which delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and the ELC-3 to the space station. This was the final mission of Endeavour. Although originally planned to be the last Space Shuttle program flight, one additional flight of Atlantis, STS-135, was flown in July 2011.

‡ Longest shuttle mission for Endeavour

Tribute and mission insignias

NASA Orbiter Tribute for Space Shuttle Endeavour
Mission insignia for Endeavour flights

Flow Directors

The Flow Director was responsible for the overall preparation of the Shuttle for launch and processing it after landing, and remained permanently assigned to head the spacecraft's ground crew while the astronaut flight crews changed for every mission. Each Shuttle's Flow Director was supported by a Vehicle Manager for the same spacecraft. Space Shuttle Endeavour's Flow Directors were:


Main article: Space Shuttle retirement

After more than twenty organizations submitted proposals to NASA for the display of an orbiter, on April 12, 2011, it was announced that the Space Shuttle Endeavour would go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.[36][37][38]

Endeavour arriving at Los Angeles

After removing its hazardous materials and electronic components, Endeavour was mounted on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and departed from the Kennedy Space Center on September 19, 2012, heading to the Los Angeles International Airport, with some refueling stops in Ellington Field and Edwards Air Force Base.

After low level flyovers above NASA and civic landmarks across the country and in California, it was finally delivered to the LAX on September 21.[39] Upon arrival, a welcome ceremony was held for the shuttle at the United Airlines' hangar. It was then hoisted off the aircraft and was place inside the hanger to prepare for its transportation through the streets of Los Angels.[40]

Journey though Los Angeles

Endeavour moving through Los Angeles

On October 11 at 11:30pm, Endeavor left the hangar and the orbiter was slowly left the airport and was carefully transported through the streets of Los Angeles, towards its final destination at the Science Center.[41][42][43]

The Space Shuttle's route on the city streets between LAX and Science Center was meticulously measured and each move was carefully choreographed.[44] In multiple locations, there were only inches of clearance for the Shuttle's wide wings between telephone poles, apartment buildings and other structures. Many street light standards and traffic signals were temporarily removed as the Shuttle passed through. It was necessary to remove over 400 street trees as well, some of which were fairly old, leading to concern.[45] However, the removed trees were replaced two-for-one by the Science Center, using part of the $200 million funding for the move.[44]

The power had to be turned off and power carrying poles had to be removed temporarily as the orbiter crept along Manchester, to Prairie Avenue, then Crenshaw Boulevard. News crews lined the streets along the path with visible news personalities in the news trucks. Police escorts and other security personnel, among them including the LAPD, LASD, CHP, and NASA officials, controlled the large crowds gathered, with support from the LAFD and LACoFD to treat heat exhaustion victims as Endeavour made its way through the city.[46] Endeavour was sometimes parked for a few hours at certain places, such as Randy's Donuts, and The Forum where it was available for viewing.[47][48]

Endeavour parking next to Randy's Donuts

The biggest part of the journey is when the Space Shuttle have to across the Manchester Boulevard Bridge over Interstate 405. The Space Shuttle was mainly carried by four self-propelled robotic transporters throughout the 12-mile (19 km) journey. However, due to weight restrictions of the bridge, the shuttle was moved to a lighter non-powered dolly and was towed across the bridge by an unmodified Toyota Tundra pickup truck.[49] Once it had completely crossed the bridge, the shuttle was then returned to the robotic transporters to continue its course. Toyota later used the footage the Space Shuttle crossing the bridge in a commercial for the 2013 Super Bowl.[50]

Having taken longer than expected, Endeavour finally reached the Science Center on October 14 at 7:30pm.[51] Prior to it arrival, the Science Center built a temporary building on the side of the museum to house the Space Shuttle until its new permanent home is being built. The Space Shuttle is then mounted on four friction-pendulum seismic isolators to protect the shuttle from earthquakes.[48] The journey through Los Angeles was dubbed as Mission 26: The Big Endeavour. This is a nod to Endeavour's 25 space missions during its career.[52]

California Science Center

Space Shuttle Endeavour on display inside the temporary pavilion from 2011 - 2023

On October 30, 2012, the Space Shuttle Endeavour was opened to the public at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion.[48] A new addition to the Science Center, called the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, as Endeavour's permanent home. This new expansion was the third phase of its master plan of renovations for the Science Center. Once finished, Endeavour will be the only shuttle mounted vertically with an external tank and a pair of solid rocket boosters. One payload door will be opened out to reveal a demonstration payload inside.[48]

After its decommissioning, Endeavour's Canadarm (formally the 'Shuttle Remote Manipulator System') was removed in order to be sent to the Canadian Space Agency's John H. Chapman Space Centre in Longueuil, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, where it was to be placed on display.[53] In a Canadian poll on which science or aerospace museum should be selected to display the Canadarm, originally built by SPAR Aerospace, the Canadian Space Agency's headquarters placed third to last with only 35 out of 638 votes.[54][55] Endeavour's Canadarm has since gone on permanent display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.[56][57][58]

In August 2015, NASA engineers removed a few of the tanks from Endeavour for reuse as storage containers for potable water on the International Space Station.[59]

Endeavour was on display from October 30, 2012 to December 31, 2023 in a temporary structure at the California Science Center,[60] located in Exposition Park in South Los Angeles about two miles south of Downtown Los Angeles.[61] A companion exhibit, "Endeavour: The California Story" (later renamed, "Endeavour Together: Parts & People"), features images and artifacts that related the Space Shuttle program to California, where the orbiters were originally constructed.[62]

Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center

The permanent home for Endeavour, the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center at the Science Center, is underway in which Endeavour will be attached to an external Space Shuttle fuel tank (ET-94) (the last mission-ready one in existence as all others were destroyed during launch) and two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and raised in an upright position, as if looks like Endeavour were to make one more flight. ET-94 underwent restoration after being used to analyze the foam on its sister tank, which was a factor in the failure of STS-107.[63] Originally slated to open in 2015, construction began on June 1, 2022.[64][65] On July 20, 2023, the assembly of the stack began with the aft skirts (bottom segments of the SRBs) being precisely positioned on a concrete slab supported by six base isolators that will protect Endeavour from earthquakes.[66] The SRBs was fully assembled on December 5.[67] On January 3, 2024, Endeavour was protected in a shrink wrap, likely to stay on until after the construction is complete.[68] The ET-94 tank was then moved into its permanent position in January 16.[69][70] On January 30, the Space Shuttle was then moved into its permanent position, completing the stack. Once all components of Endeavour are in place, construction on the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center continues, as it will be built around it. The new building is estimated to be open in 2025.


Crew Dragon C206 Endeavour was named by Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken as a tribute to the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Following their May 30, 2020, launch on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 vehicle, the crew announced in orbit that they had named their spacecraft Endeavour. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley said the name has a dual meaning: first, after the "incredible endeavor" put forth by SpaceX and NASA after the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2011; and second, because both Hurley and Behnken each flew their first flight aboard the shuttle Endeavour (Behnken on STS-123, Hurley on STS-127) and wanted to name this new spacecraft after the one that took each of them into space.[71] The shuttle appeared in the 2022 films Moonfall and Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe.


A replica of a section of Endeavour is on exhibit outside the Discovery Cube Orange County, a science museum in Santa Ana, California.[72]

See also


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