CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The space shuttle Endeavour will be capping off a storied career with one more mission this week before it retires.
Endeavour is NASA's youngest orbiter, built as a replacement for the shuttle Challenger, which was destroyed along with its crew in 1986.
The orbiter is scheduled to launch six astronauts into space on Monday (May 16) at 8:56 a.m. EDT (1256 GMT) from here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This final launch will deliver a particle detector called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station, along with a set of backup supplies to outfit the station. [Photos: Shuttle Endeavour's Final Mission]
After this final voyage, Endeavour will be retired to the California Science Museum in Los Angeles for public display.
Here's a by-the-numbers look at Endeavour's lasting legacy in space:
$1,800,000,000: The cost of space shuttle Endeavour in 1987 dollars when it was built to replace the space shuttle Challenger after the tragic 1986 launch failure that killed seven astronauts. While $1.8 billion may seem like a lot for a NASA shuttle, at the time it was roughly half the cost of earlier shuttles since NASA was able to use some spares to construct Endeavour.
116,372,930: The total miles Endeavour has traveled before launching on its last voyage. [Video: Endeavour's Final Mission]
750,000: The number of spectators who turned out in Florida to watch Endeavour's first launch attempt on April 29, 2011.
500,000: The number of spectators expected to turn out to Florida's Space Coast to watch Endeavour's final launch (the second attempt at liftoff) on May 16, 2011.
6,154: The number of entries in a national student contest to name the space shuttle Endeavour when it was built. The name Endeavour honors the 17th century sailing ship HMB Endeavour, which was captained by British seaman James Cook on a famous voyage of exploration in the South Pacific.
17,400: The speed at which Endeavour traveled (in miles per hour) to remain in orbit. It's about Mach 25, or five times the speed of a bullet.
4,423: The number of orbits Endeavour made of Earth before launching on its last mission.
1992: The year Endeavour lifted off on its first flight. The orbiter carried seven astronauts to space on the STS-49 mission to rescue and repair a broken communications satellite.
283: The total number of days Endeavour has spent in space, not counting the 16 days it will add during STS-134.
167: The number of crew members Endeavour has carried to orbit, not including the six astronauts slated to ride the shuttle on the STS-134 mission.
25: The number of missions Endeavour will have flown by the time it is retired.
12: The number of times Endeavour will have visited the International Space Station by the time it is retired. The shuttle's trips to the orbiting laboratory include the very first U.S. space station mission, the STS-88 flight in December 1998 that launched the first American space station module, Unity.
4: The number of space shuttles that NASA built before Endeavour. Its predecessors include Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, and Atlantis. [The Most Memorable Space Shuttle Missions]
3.5: The number of years it took NASA to build Endeavour. Construction on the orbiter began in September 1987, and completed in April 1991.
1: The number of times Endeavour has visited the Hubble Telescope in orbit. The shuttle was used to launch the first Hubble servicing mission, STS-61 in December 1993, which famously corrected the observatory's faulty optics.
This article was reprinted with permission from SPACE.com.
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