The Hubble Interstellar Repair Job Is Enthralling

Space Shuttle

We’re now on the third day of the most intensive, dangerous and awe inspiring repair job since Apollo 13 and I can’t help but be enraptured by it all.  The 19 year old Hubble Space Telescope is getting a major overhaul this week, with a new camera, gyroscopes, batteries and scientific equipment among the checklist.

A lot of things are making this mission especially interesting.  First, certain parts of the Telescope that are being upgraded weren’t meant to be upgraded in space, like the advanced scientific equipment.  Second, the Hubble Space Telescope is in an especially high and cluttered orbit.  This means that their has to be a second shuttle ready on the launch pad in Florida in case a chunk of satellite were to hit the Atlantis and a rescue were necessary.  Their also isn’t enough fuel to get back to the ISS, meaning that if the Atlantis were damage on it’s way up, the astronauts couldn’t just hang out in the ISS until another shuttle was readied for a rescue mission.

Finally, the stakes are pushed even higher by the fact that this is the second to last year of operation for the space shuttle. Their really isn’t a second opportunity to get it right since the shuttles are all booked up for the rest of their lifespan.  What’s really great about this mission is that in the end it will make Hubble more powerful than ever; it’s final 5 – 10 years will be its best.

And here’s an awesome quote from the second space walk, where the telescopes gyroscopes were replaced.

“My friend Leonidas has a couple of words for you guys that are appropriate right now,” shuttle commander Scott Altman told the spacewalkers, referring to the ancient Spartan king. “Remember this day, men, for it will be yours for all time.” Then Altman laughed. Leonidas died in battle in 480 B.C.
“We’ve got a little more work to do, but thanks,” replied Massimino.

Astronauts kick ass.  Here’s some more pics.

AP News Stories:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

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