10:43 PDT. one hour, 17 minutes to l(a)unch!
Atlantis: Built in 1930, the original Atlantis was the first American ship designed specifically for scientific research. It was instrumental in making several biological discoveries and gave us new insight to the undersea topography of our oceans. In 1965, Argentina bought Atlantis, where it still is in service.
Challenger. The Challenger is the first of three British vessels from which the shuttles received their names. The Challenger left Portsmouth, England, in 1872. When it returned to port four years later, the Challenger brought back more knowledge about our oceans than had been gathered in the previous 3,000 years.
Columbia. In 1790, the original Columbia was the first American vessel to circumnavigate the world. The Columbia attempted to establish trade with China. Some things can just get out of hand. Where would we be today without merchandise made in China? My house would be empty.
Discovery. The Discovery took Capt. James Cook on his third voyage to the Pacific. Cook was the greatest navigator the world has ever known. In the 1770s, he charted more coastline with greater accuracy than ever has been achieved until the advent of global positioning by satellite.
Endeavor. Endeavor took Cook on his first voyage to the Pacific in 1768. Someone at NASA must have really liked Cook to name two shuttles in his honor. Endeavor charted eastern Australia and thus won it for Britain. Otherwise, the French would have claimed it, and Australians would have to suffer through drinking wine with their steaks instead of beer. Talk about an endeavor.
Enterprise. This first shuttle to be constructed never flew in space, but was used for test flights that would perfect the design of the other shuttles. It was supposed to carry the name Constitution after the famous Revolutionary War ship now docked in Boston Harbor. “Star Trek” fans from around the world had a different idea. They petitioned NASA to use the name Enterprise to prove that space, paraphrasing Capt. James T. Kirk, “is the final frontier. And these would be the voyages of the shuttle Enterprise. Its mission: To go boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Larry Johnson via floridatoday