Sunday, March 25, 2012

Endeavour Flight

Constructed as a replacement following the Challenger loss, Endeavour was the youngest shuttle in the fleet. Named for the famous ship of British explorer Captain James Cook, Endeavour began flight operations in 1992 and enjoyed a long and distinguished career which included missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, a rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir and assembly of the International Space Station. Her last mission was flown may 16, 2011 and she was retired. Endeavour will go on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

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Longest Four Minutes I Ever Spent

In this scene, the spacecraft is actually moving from right to left. Upon approaching the moon, the spacecraft was oriented with the service propulsion engine facing in the direction of travel. Communication with Earth was temporarily interrupted as the spacecraft swung around the far side of the moon. On their own, the crew performed the complicated procedure which fired the engine for a little over 4 minutes thereby slowing the speed of the spacecraft just enough to place it into lunar orbit. This was a critical maneuver and everyone was more than just a little tense as the engine had never been tested in lunar orbit before this mission. Any malfunctions or deviation in burn time could have lead to disastrous consequences. Jim Lovell later stated it was the longest four minutes he had ever spent. Everyone was relieved as the engine performed flawlessly and on Christmas Eve the crew of Bill Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell became the first human beings in history to orbit another celestial body other than the planet earth.