The orbiters are now queuing up to take leave of the US government. The veteran orbiters will now be replaced by a fleet of vehicles backed by the commercial sector. Today, it is the turn of the space shuttle, Endeavour in this direction.

Go! Endeavour!

Go! Endeavour!

Space shuttle, Endeavour is the youngest amongst the reusable orbiters with the US. Lifting off from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida today at 1947 GMT; 2047 BST (1:15am IST), Endeavour with a six member team will embark on STS-134 mission; a 14-day mission before the shuttle is put on a display at a museum in Los Angeles. 

The Endeavour, this time, is backed by a $2 billion experiment on particle physics to the International Space Station (ISS). Till now, the Endeavor has made several successful missions. This 25th flight will add on more five to six million miles to its already achieved cumulative distance in space of 166 million km.

Endeavour took shape as a replacement to the Challenger that perished with the seven member crew aboard in the 1986 Challenger disaster, and considering the success history that trails behind Endeavour, it has been a worthy replacement. Some of the notable contributions Endeavour has to its credit include: the first-ever construction mission, carrying the flaw correction equipment to the Hubble’s telescope which till then gave picture feeds with less than satisfactory clarity.

Maneuvering the farewell baby!

Maneuvering the farewell baby!

The current mission is one ambitious one, and also the one that has taken a good 17 years to take shape. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) has been constructed by a team of researchers from 16 nations. The Endeavour will carry the AMS machinery and will fix it atop the ISS, post which it will be possible to conduct a detailed survey of cosmic rays. Other branches of particle physics like anti-matter, dark mater and strange matter will also be studied. 

The final mission, will be commanded by Mark Kelly, and will have Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori, too.The US President Barrack Obama is expected at the Kennedy Space Centre today to witness the Endeavor take off on its final mission to the space.

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