Endeavour: home for the last time

Endeavour on the launch pad prior to STS-134 (image NASA / Space.com)

The space shuttle Endeavour returned home safe and sound today, after her last 16-day flight into space – congratulations to Commander Mark Kelly and his crew on a remarkable mission which saw the last ever space walks to be conducted from a space shuttle, and the effective completion of the International Space Station – a task Endeavour herself started. Best wishes as well to Commander Kelly’s wife, Gabrielle Giffords, on her continued recovery following the terrible events in Arizona.

I’ve already written as to why the Endeavour is special to me, and I included a few facts about her, as well as posting some of my favourite images of her. To round-out her career, I thought I’d look at her “by the numbers”.

1: The number of times Endeavour has visited the Hubble Telescope in orbit. She undertook the first servicing mission (STS-61) in December 1993. The mission famously corrected the telescope’s faulty optics, effectively giving it a contact lens to wear.

3.5: The number of years it took construct Endeavour. Work commenced in September 1987, and was completed in April 1991.


The First: The crew of STS-49, Endeavour’s first mission into space

7: The number of times Endeavour landed at Edwards Air Force base, California.

10: The original anticipated lifespan (in years) for each shuttle vehicle in the fleet.

12: The number of times Endeavour visited the International Space Station. She started with the very first US mission to the station (STS-88, December 1998, carrying the Unity module), and finished with the final construction flight for the station, STS-134 in May 2011.

15 days, 17 hours, 38 minutes, 51 seconds: duration of Endeavour’s final mission.

19: The number of years Endeavour saw service. She first flew on May 7th, 1992, on mission STS-49, and was last launched on May 16th, 2011, returning home on June 1st on STS-134.

25: The number of missions Endeavour flew in her career.

100: total number of missions each shuttle was originally expected to undertake.

173: The number of crew Endeavour has flown into orbit. to orbit.

280: The total number of days Endeavour has spent in space.

4,429: The number of orbits Endeavour has made of the Earth.

The Last: the crew of STS-134, Endeavours final mission

6,154: The number of entries students gave to call the new space shuttle Endeavour after HMB Endeavour, the vessel captained by James Cook on his voyage to the South Pacific.

17,400: The speed (mph) at which Endeavour travels to remain in orbit (roughly Mach 25, five times the speed of a bullet).

122 million: total distance (rounded in miles) Endeavour has travelled during 25 missions.

$450 million: Average cost to launch a space shuttle.

$1,500 billion: Average cost of a complete shuttle mission.

$1,800 billion: How much it cost to build the Endeavour (in 1987 terms), or around 1/2 the cost of the original shuttle vehicles in the fleet, thanks to the use of “spare parts” that were available.

The last touchdown: Endeavour returns to Kennedy Space Centre, June 1st, 2011

Mesh starts rolling in July

The Mesh timeline has been published. Well, “timeline” is a bit of a stretch, but the details are now out. To save you from clicking a link, here’s the announcement in full:

“Of all of the things that excite us about Second Life, and there are many, Mesh is near the top of our list. Since the Mesh Project Viewer has been available, many content creators have given it a try on the test grid and we have only seen a small glimpse of the unlimited creative potential that this technology brings to Second Life. On behalf of everyone at the Lab, we want to thank everyone who have participated in the test and created these cool videos demonstrating the power of Mesh. 

“So, now that you are excited about trying it out on the Main Grid, we wanted to share the launch time line, as promised.

“In July, we will enable a limited set of regions to use Mesh and will it roll out, in a phased approach, throughout August. By the end of August, everyone in Second Life will be able to import Mesh objects. Of course, if we run into unforeseen issues or bugs, then this time line will need to shift. 

“We know that you must have a lot of questions regarding policies, costs, and how Mesh objects will be weighted. Although we cannot share these details yet, we will continue to keep you informed on our progress and other relevant news on this blog. 

“So buckle up and get ready for a whole new wave of creativity in SL.”

Or you can read the above here.

Mesh has been a long time coming – and the announcement is somewhat welcome, a little more depth-of-detail would have been helpful. I’m assuming at this stage that the regions for the initial roll-out will be connected to a specific Server Release Channel. If so, will sim owners on that channel be given the opportunity to opt out until later in the roll-out? Mesh is obviously a complicated subject, hence the caveats in this announcement – but I certainly hope we’ll be seening a greater depth of information as July draws closer.