Authorization to construct the fifth Space Shuttle orbiter as a replacement for Challenger was granted by Congress on August 1, 1987. Endeavour (OV-105) first arrived at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility May 7,1991, atop NASA's new Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (NASA 911). The space agency's newest orbiter began flight operations in 1992 on mission STS-49, the Intelsat VI repair mission.
Endeavour is named after the first ship commanded by 18th century British explorer James Cook. On its maiden voyage in 1768, Cook sailed into the South Pacific and around Tahiti to observe the passage of Venus between the Earth and the Sun. During another leg of the journey, Cook discovered New Zealand, surveyed Australia and navigated the Great Barrier Reef.