|The Endurance interstellar space exploration vehicle|
|4 Tokamak fusion reactors, Solar cells, Fuel cells|
|Hybrid Variable-impulse Chemical/Plasma Engines (12)|
|Long-term Habitat Module|
Air / Water Recycling
Cryogenic Hibernation Pods
Artificial Gravity (via Rotation)
|Velocity: Low Earth Orbit (LEO)||2 km/h|
|Velocity: Earth to Mars||12.5 km/s|
|Velocity: Mars to Saturn||35 km/s|
|Velocity: Wormhole approach||325 m/s|
|Velocity: Gargantua system (outside timeshift)||400 km/s|
|Velocity: Low Mann orbit (LMO)||6,5 km/s|
|Velocity: Gargantua powered slingshot||100,000 km/s|
|Velocity : Orbit Gargantua - Falling into Gargantua||20,000 km/s(Orbit ) - 3,000 km/s(Fall)|
The Endurance is the interplanetary spacecraft built by NASA as part of Project Endurance. It is the ship that carries Cooper, Amelia, Doyle, Romilly, CASE, and TARS on their voyage through the wormhole to a system located in another galaxy near the black hole Gargantua. The primary goal of the Endurance is to find, rescue, and resupply the few marooned scientists of the previous Lazarus missions in addition to establishing a permanent colony on a suitable planet that could sustain human life.
The Endurance is the product of a much-earlier NASA project to produce a viable, long-range, high-efficiency, interplanetary spaceship. It was designed to be self-sufficient for several decades, enabling it to prolong crew life for a protracted mission period. After the arrival of the blight, public opinion would no longer support any funding for space exploration, and NASA was moved into the underground NORAD facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The agency continued its work in secret for over a decade. NORAD's extensive underground facilities and launch systems - originally meant for nuclear weapons - were ideal for housing a secret space program aimed at saving mankind. Thus, work on the Endurance continued in secrecy.
The ship was slowly constructed piece-by-piece in low Earth orbit, using expendable boosters derived from the Saturn rocket and the Space Launch System. The latest advancements in aerospace technology - such as the Ranger and the Lander - were later docked to it. With the reduced capacity of NASA, the Endurance likely took a decade to complete.
With the discovery of potentially habitable worlds beyond the wormhole, the Endurance was designed for an unprecedented interstellar expedition. The goal of this expedition was two-fold:
- Travel through the wormhole and rescue several of the twelve astronauts of Lazarus Missions who found a suitable planet. Evaluate their research and select the best possible world.
- Establish a base on the most promising world capable of supporting human life, utilizing one of two plans:
- PLAN A: Locate the most habitable planet and transmit findings to Earth. Establish a small base on the planet. If the Endurance possesses sufficient fuel, return to Earth to join a worldwide colonization effort. Prof. John Brand was confident to have solved the gravity equations by the time they return ("years" after launch). Solving the equation would enable mankind to harness gravity and evacuate every person off Earth.
- PLAN B: In the event the gravity equation could not be solved, or solved too late, use the full resources of Endurance to establish a permanent colony. Using a gene bank of fertilized human eggs aboard the ship, begin developing and raising incipient humans upon the planet in order to prevent the extinction of mankind.
The chosen crew included Dr. Brand, daughter of physicist John Brand, scientists Doyle and Romilly, and military surplus support robots TARS and CASE, the latter being left aboard the ship while it was in orbit. With the reappearance of Joseph Cooper, who flown on the early Ranger test flights, the mission found its pilot. After boarding the Endurance, checking out all systems, and firing its engines, the crew would hibernate in hypersleep pods for the two-year journey to Saturn where the wormhole was discovered. The ship conducted a counter-orbital sling-shot burn around Mars to pick up additional speed.
The Endurance crossed through the wormhole, carrying its crew ten-billion light-years across space to the Gargantua system. There, they received the cached data transmissions from three of the twelve Lazarus astronauts: Dr. Laura Miller, Dr. Wolf Edmunds, and Dr. Mann, the leader of the Lazarus Missions. All three signals indicated that their respective planets held promise, but Edmunds' homing beacon stopped transmitting three years prior to their arrival.
Due to the Endurancit vector from the wormhole, the planet with the nearest and most energy efficient intercept course was Miller's planet. Unfortunately, the planet was deep within Gargantua's gravity well, meaning that the time dilation on the planet's surface was over 60,000:1 - one hour on or near the planet's surface equated to 7 years on Earth. Cooper felt the planet would take too much time to visit and may jeopardize Plan A . Doyle and Brand argued from Miller's report, the planet combination of water and organics was too promising to ignore and would take a lot of time and resources to return.
To combat the time dilation, Cooper proposed that the Endurance not enter orbit around the planet, but rather stay in a larger orbit near Miller's planet where time dilation was negligible. They agreed to take a Ranger down to the planet, rescue Dr. Miller and return to the Endurance as quickly as possible, taking as long as two years back on Earth. Cooper, Brand, Doyle, and CASE took Ranger 1 down to the surface, while Romilly elected to stay aboard the Endurance with TARS to study Gargantua.
The crew of Ranger 1 followed Miller's beacon to the surface - a knee-deep ocean, only to find the wreckage of Dr. Miller's Lazarus pod. It was soon discovered that it was destroyed by 4,000 ft-high waves caused by Gargantua's tidal forces. By her frame of reference, she had only died a few minutes before their arrival, unable send a "thumb's down" signal. CASE explained the data that Doyle received from Dr. Miller was only her initial report. The crew barely avoided being destroyed the same way, but Doyle was swept away by the wave.
When they returned, Romilly and TARS told them they were gone for 23 years, 4 months, and 8 days. Romilly had spent "a couple stretches" in hypersleep, he still aged a considerable number of years outside of hibernation. Even though that TARS kept the Endurance close to Miller's planet, the twenty-three years spent on station consumed more fuel than anticipated. The Endurance could not travel to both prospects with enough fuel to return to Earth, and a destination needed to be chosen. Edmunds' data was better than Mann's, but Dr. Mann's beacon was still transmitting. After a heated debate among the surviving crew, it was elected to travel to Mann's planet.
When arriving at Mann's Planet, the crew found Dr. Mann in cryogenic suspension, with his support robot decommissioned and his supplies exhausted. After awakening him, he revealed that he found a relatively warm, habitable surface beneath the frozen clouds that covered the planet. Convinced, the crew remained on the planet while CASE piloted Lander 2 to bring supplies down from the Endurance. Later, while attempting to murder Cooper, Dr. Mann admitted that despite his best efforts, he never found a surface; just seemingly endless layers of frozen clouds and ammonia. Unable to resign to his fate on a barren world, Dr. Mann concocted a ruse to lure the rescue mission to his planet and thus save himself. He turned his support robot, KIPP, into a booby trap that eventually killed Romilly once he accessed the true data of Mann's planet. Mann cracked Cooper's face-plate, causing him to suffocate from ammonia in the air and left him to die. After learning that Romily died and Cooper survived, he then stole Ranger 1 and headed to the Endurance. Brand and CASE used Lander 2 to rescue Cooper and, after collecting TARS, attempted to reach the Endurance before Dr. Mann could escape to Edmunds'.
Dr. Mann was never trained to dock with the Endurance, and thus did not achieve a perfect seal with the airlock. Despite Cooper and Brand's pleas, Dr. Mann was killed upon opening the Ranger's hatch, destroying Ranger 1, shattering a cargo module and ripping apart an engine module, causing it to detonate. The blast caused the Endurance to spin violently and fall into the planet's atmosphere. Using Lander 2, Cooper - with the help of TARS and CASE - managed to dock with the Endurance and boost it out of orbit.
While the ship was saved, the Endurance was crippled beyond repair, missing one of its four propulsion modules while falling into Gargantua's gravity well. It was now entirely impossible to return to Earth. There was not enough fuel to reach Edmunds' planet under their own power. The only chance was to attempt a powered slingshot around Gargantua, planned by Cooper.
Using Ranger 2 piloted by Cooper and Lander 1 piloted by TARS as rocket boosters, they pushed the Endurance in orbit of the black hole, gaining enough speed to reach Edmunds' planet. The maneuver was so close to Gargantua the gravitational time dilation made 51 years pass on Earth within a few minutes, relative time.
On the outward journey, TARS ejected in the now-spent Lander 1 to allow for the Endurance to shed enough mass to escape. Cooper tactfully decided not to tell Brand that there wasn't enough fuel to carry Ranger 2 and therefore himself, to Edmunds' planet. Cooper ejected with TARS and both fell into the black hole. CASE piloted Endurance on to Edmunds where Brand would set up the permanent colony in line with Plan B.
Once in orbit around Edmunds' planet, Brand and CASE used Lander 2 to retrieve two landing pods from the Endurance and descend to the surface. They discover that Wolf Edmunds had perished in a rock slide while in his hypersleep chamber 77 years prior. Brand was the last living human being in that galaxy save the bank of frozen fertilized eggs preserved in the ship's bank. She pressed on to repopulate mankind on the surface of Edmunds and complete the mission.
Final Status of the Rescue Mission and Crew
- Mission Leader Dr. Mann - DECEASED - Killed in orbit around planet Mann by explosive decompression of Ranger 1. (Lazarus 4) Robot KIPP - DESTROYED - Deactivated when cannibalized by Dr. Mann to power his hypersleep pod. Destroyed when booby-trapped mainframe exploded.
- Dr. Laura Miller - DECEASED - Killed when a massive tidal wave destroyed her habitation pod on the surface of planet Miller.
- Dr. Wolf Edmunds - DECEASED - Killed by a rock slide on planet Edmunds that crushed his Lazarus pod and hypersleep chamber. (Lazarus 12)
- Dr. Hale - DECEASED (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Lee - DECEASED. (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Morin - DECEASED. (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Oita - DECEASED. (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Ostro - DECEASED. (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Pila - DECEASED (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Somov - DECEASED. (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Yashin - DECEASED (M.I.A.)
- Dr. Wong - DECEASED (M.I.A.)
- Mission Commander Joseph Cooper - ACTIVE - Recovered near the wormhole in orbit around Saturn by the Rangers from Cooper Station.
- Mission Specialist Dr. Amelia Brand - ACTIVE - Survived the slingshot of the Endurance around Gargantua and set up a permanent colony on planet Edmunds.
- Science Specialist Doyle - DECEASED - Killed by a massive tidal wave on planet Miller.
- Science Specialist Romilly - DECEASED - Killed in an explosion on planet Mann by the booby-trapped KIPP.
- Robot TARS - ACTIVE - Inactive when recovered by the Rangers in orbit around Saturn. Reactivated by Cooper aboard Cooper Station.
- Robot CASE - ACTIVE - Piloted Endurance to planet Edmunds and aided Dr. Brand in establishing a colony.
The Endurance is a modular ship composed of several boxy mission modules connected by tunnels, arranged in a ring 65 meters in diameter. The ring-like shape of the ship is made so that it can rotate to produce artificial gravity. It rotates at 5.5 rpm to produce centrifugal force that simulates Earth's gravity for the astronauts.
There are twelve modules in the ship's design, each with its own purpose:
- Four of the modules serve as the main propulsion system of the Endurance, each mounting three high-efficiency, high-thrust plasma engines that propel the ship.
- Four modules serve as detachable cargo pods, intended to be ferried down to a planetary surface by the Landers to create a settlement.
- Two of the modules serve as crew habitats, with sleeping quarters, consumables, and air and water recycling systems.
- One module is the cryogenic bay, with the hypersleep pods for crew hibernation. This module also serves as the ship's sick bay.
- The last module is the command module of Endurance, containing the cockpit, communications equipment, meeting room, and navigational systems. The command module has linkages that travel to the docking collar, permitting the ship to be piloted by an attached support craft.
The Endurance is propelled by a series of twelve advanced magneto plasma rocket engines. The engines produce a distinctive blue exhaust plume of ionized gas when firing. The even spacing of the rockets permits the ship to accelerate and maneuver even while rotating to produce pseudo-gravity through angular momentum.
Docking Hubs/Support Craft
The Endurance has a central/core docking hub that can mount six of its support craft at one time. The Endurance also has four side module docking ports which can only be docked to by Rangers. These side ports are easier to dock to instead of the Central hub ports when the ship is facing upwards over the atmosphere orbiting around a planet, when needing to dock quickly. Overall, the ship has a total of 11 docking ports.
The Endurance carries two Rangers and two Landers for a high degree of redundancy. Rangers are fast and aerodynamic scouting vessels, while the Landers are used to ferry cargo pods down to a planetary surface from the Endurance. Rangers can efficiently cruise through a planetary atmosphere and use chemical/plasma aerospike engines to achieve single-stage-to-orbit. Landers uses similar engines but are more derived from the bell shaped main engines of the Endurance. Each craft is efficient and powerful enough to achieve orbit multiple times.
In the original script, Cooper was able to trace the origin of a crashed drone to a NASA facility on Santa Cruz Island. They rocket to enter Low-Earth orbit, where the Endurance awaited, docked to a space station. The Endurance was a decades old spacecraft maintained by a crew of androids. The craft had a similar ring-like shape, but was able to extend or decrease its diameter in order to "sink" into the wormhole.
- The Endurance is presumably named for Ernest Shackleton's ship that was bound for Antarctica, attempting to cross on foot to the last uncharted continent. The Endurance set sail from England in August 1914.
- In the docking scene, where Cooper is trying to dock with the partly damaged Endurance after Dr. Mann's demise, the Endurance is spinning around its center axis. As its perimeter was damaged, it would spin around its rather new center of mass. The docking bay itself would revolve around this new axis, making alignment much harder.