17 November 2008



Endeavour docks with ISS. (video link)

This Endeavour is OV-105 of NASA's Shuttle fleet. It was launched in 1992 and has 22 missions under its belt. Endeavour was the fifth and final shuttle--it replaced Challenger, which was destroyed shortly after takeoff in 1986. I remember that day well--I was teaching class when a highly agitated youngster came dashing into the room in the middle of my lesson. He was too polite to actually disrupt the class, but he got my attention and told me that his class down the hall had been watching the launch when the explosion occurred. He knew that it would be big news for me, as several months earlier I had chaperoned a student field trip to Edwards AFB in the Mojave desert to watch Challenger land. That mission was STS-61A. We didn't know, of course, that it would be Challenger's last successful flight. We were lucky enough to take another field trip to Edwards when flights resumed in 1988, and watched the successful landing of Discovery (STS-26). They don't land at Edwards any more, which is a shame, as the viewing was spectacular there. Watching that over-sized glider come down and kiss the earth is quite a sight. Those fellows are great pilots!

Speaking of great pilots, James Cook was in command of His Majesty's Bark Endeavour when it circumnavigated the globe from 1769-1771. He went on to fame and glory, remembered as one of the greatest navigators of his age. His tiny ship's memory lives on in space!

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