Earlier today, the US Space Shuttle Endeavour launched successfully on its final mission – it is now currently en route to the International Space Station where it will be delivering the $2bn Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. It will also be carrying a bunch of baby squid.
After 30 years of the US Space Shuttle programme, the Americans will have to rely on the Russians to ferry their astronauts to and from the ISS. Atlantis will be the final shuttle to launch in the programme – expected sometime in July.
Interestingly NASA has never been able to obtain an ‘all inclusive’ photograph of the ISS docked with one of its shuttles. NASA had hoped that the Russians would perform a flyabout of the station in one of their Soyuz modules in order to obtain historical images of the station docked with Endeavour. However these plans were later rejected amidst safety concerns regarding the re-docking of the module to the station. Unfortunately for NASA, there will only be one more chance to document the shuttle’s legacy; after the next and final mission the US shuttles will be placed into retirement permanently – never to feel the cold emptiness of space again.
Here’s a webcast produced by NASA which sums up Endeavour’s legacy perfectly (if a little cheasily):
Super Collider also put on a charming retirement party for Endeavour tonight at the Bookclub in Shoreditch; speakers included photographer David Ryle and author Piers Bizony – I recorded the event and hope to be podcasting it soon – lets wish Endeavour and its crew a safe trip!