Named in honour of the ship which in 1768 carried captain James Cook and his crew to the South Pacific, Endeavour first launched on 7 May 1992 (see pic) when it headed off on its STS-49 mission to capture, repair and return to orbit an Intelsat satellite.
On its next trip, in September of the same year, the shuttle carried a manned Spacelab module, as well as "the first Japanese astronaut to fly aboard the shuttle (Mamoru Mohri), the first African-American woman to fly in space (Mae Jemison) and the first married couple to fly on the same space mission (Mark Lee and Jan Davis)".
In December 1993, Endeavour embarked on "one of most challenging and complex manned missions ever attempted" – the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, featuring "a record five back-to-back space walks totaling 35 hours and 28 minutes".
I recently found an old Reader's Digest magazine from 1981, that included an article about the "newest guest in space": The Columbia.
It is saddening, in today's context, reading about all the hope these birds brought back in the day: frequent flights, cheap sending of goods to orbit... it *was* the future. And now, 30 years later we have taken several steps backwards.
Here's hoping that Musk, Chang-Diaz, Allen, and the rest of private investors succeed. I don't want to think that the best days of space exploration and discovery are already in the past.
There were far better designs proposed
Like liquid fueled flyback boosters, and total reusability, not just partial, but president Nixon squashed all of them because the space program reminded him of Kennedy, who he hated. He chose "cheap and crappy as possible"
So he'd be the "cost cutting half-assed jerk" you refer to. NASA TRIED to "do it properly" and got shut down.
I consider Nixon directly and personally responsible for the Challenger and Columbia deaths.
"I consider Nixon directly and personally responsible for the Challenger and Columbia deaths."
That would be because between his dislike of the space programme and the OMB funding rules instituted at his orders (I seem to recall the name Caspar Weinberger mentioned in connection with this) he was.