Endeavour is the youngest of all of the orbiters, having been authorized for construction in 1987 as a replacement to the Challenger orbiter. Endeavour (OV-105) arrived to Kennedy Space Center for final check-out and testing in May of 1991.
Endeavour name was the result of a national public contest of elementary and secondary school students. They were asked to choose a name based on an exploratory or research maritime vessel. In May of 1989, President George Bush announced the winning name in a public address. Endeavour was named after an 18th century research vessel, the HMS Endeavour, commanded by British explorer James Cook. Cook was an experienced seaman, navigator and amateur astronomer. He commanded a crew of 93 men, including 11 scientists and artists, to cross the South Pacific in 1768.[Read more of Helene McLaughlin’s recap of Endeavour’s accomplishments and the rest of the Countdown to the last shuttle launch on GeekMom!]