Remembering ENDEAVOUR … plus, the First Martian Impact

While the Space Shuttle Endeavour is in orbit on its final flight, it seems fitting that we remember that 15 years ago today — May 19, 1996 — Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center on another mission.

(The Inflatable Antenna Experiment, after deployment. NASA image.)

Mission STS-77 carried U.S. astronauts John H. Casper, Curtis L. Brown, Daniel W. Bursch, Mario Runco, Jr., and Andrew S. W. Thomas, and Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau. The astronauts conducted a variety of experiments, including deploying the free-flying Inflatable Antenna Experiment, which at its full size was as big as a tennis court.

Here’s wishing the best to the current crew of Endeavour as they carry out their mission to the International Space Station.

Also in today’s space history, 40 years ago the Mars-2 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. On its approach to Mars in November 1971, it released a lander that “entered the Martian atmosphere at roughly 6.0 km/s at a steeper angle than planned” and crashed: the first human-built article to reach the surface of Mars.

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