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The Final Frontier

Lifting off with space shuttle Endeavour

In the 30 years between the first launch, of Columbia in 1981, and the last, of Atlantis in 2011, the space shuttle program accomplished much. It ferried critical research tools such as the Hubble Space Telescope while helping make the International Space Station a reality. But it also suffered tragedies: the loss of 14 lives and two ships, Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. Last year photographer Dan Winters, who built every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo model he could find as a child, shot the final takeoffs of Discovery, Endeavour, and Atlantis for his new book, Last Launch (University of Texas Press). With Endeavour becoming a permanent resident of the California Science Center in Exposition Park, we thought Angelenos should see how this product of Palmdale could really fly.


ALSO: Read Rocket Man, a Q&A with Dan Winters about how he photographed the Endeavour


Photographs by Dan Winters