Endeavour sets wheels to Earth one last time

By Phil Plait | June 1, 2011 9:30 am

Last night, at 06:35 UTC, the Space Shuttle Orbiter Endeavour came down from space for the last time, safely landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

[Click to embiggen.]

On its last mission, Endeavour traveled over 10 million km (6.5 million miles) and the mission lasted for 15 days, 17 hours, 38 minutes, and 51 seconds. Since its first launch in 1992, it flew a total of 25 missions — it was built to replace Challenger, the first of two Orbiters lost — most notably, for me at least, was the first Hubble Space Telescope reservicing mission in late 1993.

Endeavour was named after the famed ship sailed by Captain James Cook. This was the same ship he took in 1769 to the South Pacific to observe the very rare transit of Venus across the Sun’s face, in the hopes of determining the size and scale of the solar system. Quite the legacy.

As I wrote when Discovery touched down for the last time: I’d say "Welcome home", but the ground is not a spaceship’s home.

Related posts:

Stunning pic of Endeavour’s last spacedock
Endeavour’s eye view of her last launch
ISS checks Endeavour out

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Space

Comments (14)

  1. John

    Edeavour’s last sonic boom woke me at 2:30 this morning.

  2. Cindy

    The only shuttle launch I ever went to was the one for Hubble’s first servicing mission in 1993. I should have worn the T-shirt of that mission today.

    It’s sad, but NASA needs to move on. Also Space X and others will help provide the next generation of space vehicles.

  3. Wow, only 25 missions? The cost per flight must have been astronomical (not to mention the cost of each launch).

    And good ole humid FL air. Look at those condensation trails.

  4. Coda

    3. Larian LeQuella Says:
    “The cost per flight must have been astronomical…”


  5. Jamey

    135 flights over 6 vehicles – in 30 years. 4 and a half flights a year. Kinda sad, really.

  6. Charlie

    I’m still bummed the Museum of Flight in Seattle only gets the plywood trainer from NASA, not the real McCoy…

  7. .Q

    Especially with the original promise of launches every two weeks…

  8. It’s true what you said, the ground is not a space ship’s home.

    What would be the most awesome is if NASA sent Atlantis to the ISS and left her there. It would be a fitting retirement. Impractical, but awesome.

  9. Josie

    Well Charlie, you get more than Houston, who hosts NASA mission control. They don’t get one at all. I really was surprised that they of all places didn’t get a trinket for all the work they put in over the years–a community for me at least that is synonymous with our country’s space effort.

  10. Ella

    Does anyone know why there was fire coming out of the tail?

    I was watching the video of the landing and there seemed to be a small fire coming out of the tail. Is that a common occurence, or was it something they did for the final flight?

  11. Ben

    #5 Jamey: 5 vehicles.

  12. Aaron

    A ghostly, fitting image.

  13. Carl

    The “fire” is the exhaust from the shuttle APUs. It’s always there on launches and landings when the APU is running, just more visible at night.

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    Vale Endeavour.

    Farewell and thankyou for the memories and the successful missions flown.

    I, for one, will miss you.


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