Endeavour blasts off one last time

The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off on Monday for its final mission, watched by Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who was shot in the head earlier this year, whose husband is commanding the mission.

Tens of thousands of people crowded in and around the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for the launch of the shuttle’s 16-day voyage to deliver $2-billion worth of astrophysics equipment to the International Space Station, designed to search space for antimatter. Nasa is planning just one more flight, of the Atlantis in July, before the 30-year shuttle programme is shut down.

Nasa described the presence of Giffords to watch her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, command the flight as “inspiring”. The congresswoman travelled from a hospital in Houston, Texas, where she has been making what her doctors have called a “miraculous recovery” after being shot in the head in January during an assassination attempt by a gunman who killed six other people.

Shortly before lift-off, Kelly described Endeavour as “this incredible ship”. He then appealed for the exploration of space to continue in spite of the end of the space shuttle programme.

Reaching for the stars
“As Americans, we endeavour to build a better life than the generation before and endeavour to be a united nation. In those efforts we are often tested,” he said. “This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment and exploration. It is in the DNA of our country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop.”

Minutes after the launch, Giffords, who was kept away from the cameras, sent a tweet: “God Speed — we’ll see you in about two weeks.”

Barack Obama was not present — he and his and his family had attended an attempt to launch Endeavour nearly three weeks ago that was called off due to an electrical fault.

Endeavour was built to replace another shuttle, Challenger, which blew up shortly after a launch in 1986 killing seven astronauts. Nasa says that since Endeavour‘s launch in 1992 it has travelled more than 160-million kilometres over 25 flights. The six astronauts on the shuttle marked the final flight of the Endeavour by posing for a re-enactment of the poster promoting the most recent Star Trek film. – guardian.co.uk

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Odd drop in how Covid-19 numbers grow

As the country hunkers down for a second week of lockdown, how reliable is the data available and will it enable a sound decision for whether South Africans can leave their homes on April 16?

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders