Endeavour's final walk down the aisle

By Phil Plait | March 19, 2011 7:00 am

On Thursday, March 10, the Space Shuttle Endeavour began its last 5 km trek to the launch pad.

When it launches on April 19 (scheduled at 19:48 EDT), Endeavour will bring parts and supplies to the International Space Station, as usual, but it will also be carrying the 7 ton the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2, a scientific instrument that, among many goals, will try to detect antimatter (to solve a long-standing puzzle of why so little exists in our Universe) and look for the subatomic signature of dark matter.

This will be Endeavour’s final scheduled flight.

Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Pretty pictures, Space

Comments (19)

Links to this Post

  1. Endeavour: La última misión « [Px] | March 20, 2011
  2. Endeavour: La última misión | March 20, 2011
  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    Great photo of a great spaceplane. Thanks. :-)

    She’s served us well.

    I’ll miss her. :-(

  2. Floyd

    Great picture, but what we really need are spaceplanes/shuttles designed to make many trips to space. Anything less is just wrong.

  3. Messier Tidy Upper

    To get a hint of how well she’s served us see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Endeavour

    Plus :

    http://vimeo.com/9330783

    & for the importance of the AMS see :

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/amsprocessing.html

    Hope Endeavour‘s last flight goes smoothly & well. Best wishes and hopes to her crew and mission control. :-)

  4. Jason Dick

    Regarding the AMS-2:
    Given what we know about the CMB, this just sounds like an extremely odd sort of theory to be bothering about. Will this tell us interesting things about astrophysical processes that may produce antimatter? Maybe. Will it tell us interesting things about dark matter? Possibly.

    But I’m pretty sure the matter/anti-matter asymmetry is a solved issue (in that it exists, not why it exists…yet). There is just no way for any noticeable amount of anti-matter to have survived the hot plasma of the early universe, which we observe as the CMB.

  5. Very bittersweet photograph. For many reasons!

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    Make that this video :

    http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/video/video.php?v=1365868833085&comments

    via Facebook of the night- time ascent of Endeavour on STS-130 courtesy of Michael Interbartolo III who as usual has done an astounding superb job. :-)

  7. Jeff

    I am getting mixed feelings these days. I remember watching Neil Armstrong landing on moon and that big grin by Walter Cronkite, I still remember that literally like it was yesterday. I still have my Sunday newspaper extra from Milwaukee showing photos of the mission, and it is turning yellow on me. And I was stunned and angered when the shuttle program replaced Apollo. But now after 30 years of shuttle, they have kind of grown on me, and since endeavor is almost being put out to pasture , I am kind of sad.

    I really wish they’d fly the shuttles now another 5 years, although I was initially against them. I hear they are working on the designs for a space plane so maybe that’ll get going. I really don’t like how congress and nasa work.

  8. Eric

    She is such a stunner! What a beautiful ship :)

    I cannot wait to see what our space fairing civilization comes up with next

  9. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, the trials and tribulations of creating a Type I civilization. I expect we’ll be working on a Type II before we get the Type I completely built.

    So much fun being alive right now. Reading about this time of transition in the history books will never be as good as being here.

    So long, Endeavor. It was nice knowing you.

    Gary 7

  10. Stargazer

    Will NASA use the Dragon capsule instead? Would make sense, since it could be used for ISS, NEAs, the Moon and even Mars.

  11. SLC

    The shuttle program, a colassal waste of money, or so says Prof. Bob Park of the Un. of Maryland Physics Department. But of course, there are those in these parts who insist that Prof. Park, like Steven Weinberg, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    3. DISCOVERY: THE EXPLORATION THAT REACHED NO OTHER SHORE.
    The space shuttle Discovery returned its crew safely to Earth on Wednesday. Nothing more had been asked of it. A remarkable technological achievement, the shuttle program must nevertheless be judged a colossal failure. It was sold to Congress and the nation as a reusable spacecraft that would reduce costs; it turned out to be the most expensive launch system ever devised. The great achievements of the space program, including exploration of the solar system, space-based telescopes, weather satellites, space communications and global positioning all came out of the unmanned program.

    http://www.bobpark.org/

  12. DLC

    Somehow, I feel like the Vikings who found the new world and then turned around and went home and burned their ships because they were too costly to maintain.
    Sorry, but I am not at all convinced that any amount of x-prize will actually have any meaning. I much more expect we will simply do what the purveyors of ignorance would have us do, and burn our ships. I really hope I’m wrong.

  13. Michel

    I really hate to see him go. Knowing it is the last of it´s kind. However.
    BON VOYAGE!!!

    (beautiful pic!!)

  14. Jamie

    The US is spending one trillion dollars on a a fleet of F-35s, yet the shuttle program is cancelled due to costs.
    I think I’m going to cry.

  15. QuietDesperation

    F-35 is a sweet piece of machinery, though. I loves me some strike fighters. I always thought it should be a “flock” of aircraft, though. :)

    Spacecraft versus military aircraft is a bit of a false dilemma, anyway.

    And you think a significant move into space, along the lines of Von Braun’s original visions, wouldn’t rack up *many* trillions in costs? Hoisting things out of the gravity well is not cheap. It *seems* cheap because we’re not doing much right now.

    Ah, the trials and tribulations of creating a Type I civilization.

    We’re currently about a Type 0.7, and at least a century away from being Type I.

    Somehow, I feel like the Vikings who found the new world and then turned around and went home and burned their ships because they were too costly to maintain.

    Why? We’re in a bit of an uncertain/undecided state about how best to proceed, but no one is really suggesting complete abandonment of space. There’s quite a bit of effort in getting satellites to space cheaper, and the satcom industry at the very least is *never* going away, which is sort of why I selected it as a career. ;-)

    Cheer up. Think of it as Vikings who realized that their ships built of solid gold were not the best idea, and went back to the drawing board.

    Or, go to college, get an appropriate degree, and invent a new way to orbit, because it’s *expensive* now. It’s not the lack of will or military budgets or anything else that’s really holding us back. We need a cheap way to orbit.

  16. Messier Tidy Upper

    Durnnit! Link I posted at # 6 wasn’t right, sorry. :-(

    It was NOT suppose to go to my facebook page but rather to the video linked (hopefully correctly this time!) here:

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1365868833085&comments

    This is well worth watching & one of my all-time fave clips – the night- time ascent of Endeavour for the STS-130 flight courtesy of Michael Interbartolo III. :-)

    Had a bit of trouble finding and posting that ‘un last night – and we lost the world cup cricket game Vs Pakistan I was also watching at the time too. Sigh.

  17. Jeff

    “3. DISCOVERY: THE EXPLORATION THAT REACHED NO OTHER SHORE.
    The space shuttle Discovery returned its crew safely to Earth on Wednesday. Nothing more had been asked of it. A remarkable technological achievement, the shuttle program must nevertheless be judged a colossal failure. It was sold to Congress and the nation as a reusable spacecraft that would reduce costs; it turned out to be the most expensive launch system ever devised. The great achievements of the space program, including exploration of the solar system, space-based telescopes, weather satellites, space communications and global positioning all came out of the unmanned program.

    http://www.bobpark.org/

    I am a prof. also and agree with Dr. Park in general, always did, but I still am kind of bummed out that the manned space missions will end. I mean, there is more than science involved, it involves people and inspiration and some of those shuttle missions were pretty inspirational.

    Dr. Park has this on the website:

    Bob Park can be reached via email at whatsnew@bobpark.org
    THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
    Opinions are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.

    As a long time prof., I see the great humor in this. We ALWAYs want our schools to see eye to eye with us faculty, but they rarely do, and it is a sad thing. If we didn’t have tenure, I would worry about my job every day.

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