NASA launched Endeavour on Friday, December 4, 1998 at 3:36 am, after a loud, flashing alarm went off in the cockpit during Thursday's countdown, forcing a postponement of the first space station construction flight.
NASA has described this mission as one of the most difficult on record. And the entire space station project promises to be the most difficult undertaking since the Apollo moon landings. During Endeavour's 12 day mission, the astronauts will use the shuttle robot arm Unity to capture the Russian module Zarya and attach it to the American built component. Then, two astronauts will perform three spacewalks to hook up all the electrical connections and cables between the two cylinders.
The U.S. module, Unity, is a connecting passageway. The Russian component, named Zarya, contains the power and propulsion systems that will keep the station aloft until the Russians can launch a permanent control module. In all, more than 100 components are to be launched over the next five years, requiring 45 U.S. and Russian flights.
The mission is the first of 36 space shuttle flights that NASA estimates will be needed over the next five years to build the 16 nation space station, needed to create a permanent research outpost in space. The station is set to be completed in 2004.
12-4-98 Endeavour is launched at 3:36am
12-5-98 Astronauts begin assembling the International Space Station
12-6-98 1st spacewalk- Endeavour captures Zarya module
12-9-98 2nd spacewalk-U.S. astronauts installed two antennas on the ISS and opened two stuck antennas on Zarya
12-10-98 Astronauts enter Unity,
12-13-98 3rd spacewalk- Endeavour undocks from the International Space Station, culminating the first joint phase of the global effort to live in space
12-16-98 Endeavour lands at Kennedy Space Center