"The first thing I saw from space was Chicago, my hometown. I was working on the middeck where there aren’t many windows, and as we passed over Chicago the commander called me up to the flight deck.
It was such a significant moment because since I was a little girl I had always assumed I would go into space. When I grew up, in the 1960’s, the only American astronauts were men. Looking out the window of that space shuttle, I thought if that little girl growing up in Chicago could see her older self now, she would have a huge grin on her face.”
What can I say about this bird that hasn’t already been said? Endeavour, whose name was borrowed from Captain Cook’s first exploration ship. Endeavour, the ship that replaced Challenger after her accident, carrying her spirit. There’s a lot to live up to. I’ll give this a shot.
OV-105, the newest ship of the orbiter fleet, rolled out in 1991, just after I was born. I grew up with her; she was always my favorite. Endeavour was also the first orbiter that I ever saw up close. I visited first the California Science Center in Los Angeles on January of 2014, fully intending on thoroughly photographing the ship for this project. I walked into the hangar, and immediately had to fight tears welling up in my eyes. The emotions I felt were oddly similar to a time when I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night in person. How could I have taken a picture Starry Night and call the photograph art? I snapped two or three photos of the orbiter, and realized that there was no way I could capture what she meant to me in a photograph, so I stopped snapping.
It wasn’t until my second visit on August 2, 2014, when I was finally able to photograph the bird. Endeavour will always hold a special place in my heart. Every orbiter is beautiful, but I think OV-105 will always be my favorite.
Mae C. Jemison, the first African American female in space, was born on this date, October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. She became the first African-American woman to be in the astronaut training program in 1987. On mission STS47, she flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavour. She was in space for eight days conducting experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness. Jemison has won many awards and doctorates. Some of the awards include the NASA Space Flight Medal, Essence Science and Technology Award, and the Ebony Black Achievement Award. She was also inducted in the International Space Hall of Fame.