Space Shuttle Endeavour enters history books after nineteen years following penultimate landing of program
Saturday, June 4, 2011
The commander of the mission, International Space Station (ISS). The AMS will enable scientists to examine and learn more about the history of the ., paid tribute to the spaceship shortly after touchdown, saying, "It's sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy." Endeavour launched earlier this month on a mission to carry the (AMS) and several spare parts to the
The six-member crew of STS-134 consists of commander European Space Agency's Vittori is scheduled to be the last non-American to fly aboard the Shuttle., pilot , and mission specialists , , , and .
Kelly is the husband of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded during a January shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords watched the launch from the Kennedy Space Center on May 16, but was asleep in a hospital during the early morning landing, according to Kelly.
The end of the shuttle program comes after NASA opted to phase out the aging fleet, which has been in use since 1981, due to financial problems with maintaining the crafts. According to , NASA thinks that allowing private businesses to win space transportation contracts will generate enough revenue to pay for sending astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
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In a statement,, said, "We are very proud of Endeavour's legacy, and this penultimate flight of the space shuttle program once again demonstrated the amazing skill and dedication of our astronauts and the entire workforce." He stated that as NASA "begin[s] the transition from the shuttle program to the commercial transportation of [its] crews and cargo, [its] ability to tackle big challenges remains steadfast and will ensure that NASA reaches even more destinations farther in the Solar System."
Space Shuttle Endeavour began service after theshortly after lifting off in 1986; all seven astronauts aboard died as a result of the disaster. Endeavour launched on its maiden flight, , in May 1992. During her career, Endeavour has orbited the planet 4,671 times, spent 299 days in space, and transported a total of 170 astronauts. The vehicle has traveled a total distance longer than 197.6 million kilometres (122.8 million miles). While in space, NASA's Michael Fincke set a space endurance record, spending the longest total time of any American in space at 382 days. STS-134 was Fincke's third spaceflight and first on the Space Shuttle. The spaceflight was the 25th and final flight of Endeavour, as well as the 134th and second-to-last of the entire .
The final mission in the Space Shuttle program,, is scheduled to launch on July 8.
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