Denys writes:

> Naming it Endeavour after James Cook's ship gives it a more glamour,
> but it's fun to see how it is misspelled most of the time.


The "Endeavour" wasn't named out of a sense of glamour but of deep respect
and tradition.

All of the shuttles are named after previous ships of discovery and exploration.
While some of the earliest ships doubled as warships, most weren't and certain
names have now become traditional for ships that don't belong to any nation
but rather "sail for the good of all mankind."

Indeed that was the phrase that the French Navy used when it gave safe
passage to Cook's Endeavour when he sailed to Tahiti to be there in time for a
transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in an early attempt to first
accurately measure the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

Endeavour/Endeavor, Challenger, Beagle, Columbia, Atlantis, Oceanus,
Discovery are just some of those names that are now reserved for non-military
ships of science. Indeed, these ships no longer carry a designation such as
HMS or USS, but rather R/V, indicating "research vessel" to mark their non-
military nature.

The first planet that we explored in earnest was the Earth, and the shipsof
those names were the method by which we conducted that exploration, and
now that we're preparing to go to the other planets, these are the names that
we'll use over and over again.

As to the R/V Endeavor, the University of Rhode Island has a nice video up on
the web regarding the ship. It's at:

http://www.uri.edu/endeavor/

The R/V Endeavor is owned by the US National Science Foundation and is
operated by the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, but a number of similar
academic organizations operate similar and larger ships. The largest fleets of
R/V's are operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Scripps
Institute of Oceanography, and their ships are owned either by NSF, NOAA or
the US Navy.

Wirt Atmar

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