Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) was authorized by Congress in August 1987 as a replacement vehicle for the Space Shuttle Orbiter – Challenger (OV-099) which was destroyed on January 28th 1986.
Endeavour was named after a ship chartered to traverse the South Pacific in 1768 and captained by 18th century British explorer James Cook, an experienced seaman, navigator and amateur astronomer.
Between rescue attempts, the STS-49 crew was busy with a variety of activities. They conducted medical tests assessing the human body’s performance in microgravity, and recorded footage for an educational video comparing Cook’s first voyage on Endeavour with the Space Shuttle orbiter’s maiden voyage.
Once the new motor was attached, it propelled the satellite into the correct orbit, providing a relay link for the equivalent of 120,000 two-way simultaneous telephone calls and three television channels.
This was the first time four spacewalks were conducted on a Space Shuttle mission and one of them was the longest in space history, lasting more than eight hours.
Just as James Cook set the standard with his seafaring Endeavour voyage, the Space Shuttle Endeavour missions have continued to uphold and surpass the standards set by its namesake, more than 200 years later.
|February 15, 1982||Start structural assembly of Crew Module|
|July 31, 1987||Contract Award|
|September 28, 1987||Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage|
|December 22, 1987||Wings arrive at Palmdale, Calif. from Grumman|
|August 1, 1987||Start of Final Assembly|
|July 6, 1990||Completed final assembly|
|April 25, 1991||Rollout from Palmdale|
|May 7, 1991||Delivery to Kennedy Space Center|
|April 6, 1992||Flight Readiness Firing|
|May 7, 1992||First Flight (STS-49)|
Spare parts from the construction of Discovery (OV-103) and Atlantis (OV-104), manufactured to facilitate the repair of an orbiter if needed, were eventually used to build OV-105.
Endeavour also featured 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:
- A 40-foot-diameter drag chute that reduces the orbiter’s rollout distance by 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
- An updated avionics system that include advanced general purpose computers, improved inertial measurement units and tactical air navigation systems, enhanced master events controllers and multiplexer-demultiplexers, a solid-state star tracker.
- Improved nose wheel steering mechanisms.
- An improved version of the Auxiliary Power Units that provide power to operate the Space Shuttle’s hydraulic systems.
- Installation of an external airlock, making Endeavour capable of docking with the International Space Station.
- Originally equipped as the first extended duration orbiter, later removed during OMDP to save weight for ISS missions.
- Installation of a ground cooling hookup to allow payload bay to cool the mini-pressurized logistics module (MPLM).
- General weight-reduction program to maximize the payload capability to the ISS.
- Doublers added to several wing spars to allow heavier payloads and two wing glove truss tubes were replaced with units having increased wall thickness.
- Approximately 100 modifications made to Endeavour during its first Orbiter Major Modification period (OMDP).