By Patricia Daukantas
It’s crunch time for NASA’s human spaceflight team as the agency prepares for its May 12 launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on the next, and final, mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. That’s just four weeks from today!
As I wrote in OPN’s October 2008 issue, the space telescope will get a new camera and spectrometer, both of which will provide Hubble with improved stargazing (and galaxy-gazing) capabilities. Two pairs of astronauts will also perform delicate repairs to other instruments that have not been doing their jobs over the last couple of years. Finally, they’ll install new gyroscopes, insulation, and docking hardware.
The Atlantis crew was supposed to blast off last fall, but shortly before the original mission date, Hubble developed some additional problems that needed to be fixed (and even more repairs needed to be added to the mission manifest).
Today’s New York Times profiles John Grunsfeld, an astronomer by profession who will be making his third repair trip to the space telescope. The article’s author, Dennis Overbye, is a talented writer (he penned Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, one of my all-time favorite non-technical books about science), and you won’t soon forget the stunning NASA photos.
Also online: Grunsfeld’s spacewalking colleague Mike Massimino, who is “Twittering” his Hubble repair mission training experiences under the name Astro_Mike.
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