By Whatever Name, Shuttle Set To Blast Off August 7
Space Shuttle Endeavour is in place at Launch Pad 39A, after an
overnight journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building -- the first
time the orbiter has seen a launch pad in over five years.
Moving at less than one mile an hour atop the
crawler-transporter, the shuttle assembly began the 3.4-mile trip
at 2010 EDT June 10, and arrived at the pad at 0230 July 11.
Endeavour was "hard down" -- or secured in place -- on the pad at
0302. The first launch attempt is scheduled for August 7.
Endeavour is the third of NASA's three remaining shuttles to
return to the skies after the reentry loss of Columbia in February
2003. Reuters reports In the time since Endeavour's last flight in
November 2002, the orbiter underwent a heavy refit, and maintenance
"We have made good use of that time," said deputy shuttle
program manager Kim Doering.
Among Endeavour's updates is a new system designed to allow the
orbiter to hook into the electrical system onboard the
International Space Station. Providing the power transfer system
works properly -- which is not a certainty, considering the
difficulties experienced onboard the ISS following the connection
of new solar panels to the station during the last assembly mission
-- NASA plans to extend Endeavour's 11-day mission to two
During the STS-118 mission, Endeavour will carry into orbit the
S5 truss, SPACEHAB module and external stowage platform 3. If NASA
extends the mission, the crew will use the extra time to finish
preparing the ISS for the arrival of laboratories built by Europe
and Japan in the following months.
It's Not Rocket Science, It's Spelling
Quick quiz: Why is "Endeavour" spelled the way it is, instead of
the conventional American English spelling, "endeavor?"
The orbiter -- the last shuttle to be built, as a replacement
for the lost Challenger -- was named following a nationwide
competition between elementary and secondary schools. The name
comes from the HM Bark Endeavour, the 18th century ship
commanded by British explorer James Cook -- hence, the Old English
spelling. The name also graced one other NASA spacecraft -- the
Command Module of Apollo 15.
That small history lesson -- courtesy of Wikipedia, and roughly
three minutes of online verification -- was lost on some NASA
employees, however, who made up a quick banner to celebrate the
shuttle's return to the launch pad.
"Go Endeavor!" the banner reads, reports the Houston
Well, we're sure the STS-118 crew appreciates the sentiment,