Return to Hubble

NASA announced today its final shuttle flight to the Hubble Space Telescope
Return to Hubble

NASA Approves Mission and Names Crew for Return to Hubble

Shuttle astronauts will make one final house call to NASA’s Hubble Space
Telescope as part of a mission to extend and improve the observatory’s
capabilities through 2013.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced plans for a fifth servicing
mission to Hubble Tuesday during a meeting with agency employees at
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Goddard is the agency
center responsible for managing Hubble.

“We have conducted a detailed analysis of the performance and procedures
necessary to carry out a successful Hubble repair mission over the
course of the last three shuttle missions. What we have learned has
convinced us that we are able to conduct a safe and effective servicing
mission to Hubble,”
Griffin said. “While there is an inherent risk in all spaceflight
activities, the desire to preserve a truly international asset like the
Hubble Space Telescope makes doing this mission the right course of
action.”

The flight is tentatively targeted for launch during the spring to fall
of 2008. Mission planners are working to determine the best location and
vehicle in the manifest to support the needs of Hubble while minimizing
impact to International Space Station assembly. The planners are
investigating the best way to support a launch on need mission for the
Hubble flight. The present option will keep Launch Pad 39-B at the
Kennedy Space Center, Fla., available for such a rescue flight should it
be necessary.

Griffin also announced the astronauts selected for the mission. Veteran
astronaut Scott D. Altman will command the final space shuttle mission
to Hubble. Navy Reserve Capt. Gregory C. Johnson will serve as pilot.
Mission specialists include veteran spacewalkers John M. Grunsfeld and
Michael J.
Massimino and first-time space fliers Andrew J. Feustel, Michael T. Good
and K. Megan McArthur.

Altman, a native of Pekin, Ill., will be making his fourth spaceflight
and his second trip to Hubble. He commanded the STS-109 Hubble servicing
mission in 2002. He served as pilot of STS-90 in 1998 and STS-106 in
2000. Johnson, a Seattle native and former Navy test pilot and NASA
research pilot, was selected as an astronaut in 1998. He will be making
his first spaceflight.

Chicago native Grunsfeld, an astronomer, will be making his third trip
to Hubble and his fifth spaceflight. He performed five spacewalks to
service the telescope on STS-103 in 1999 and STS-109 in 2002. He also
flew on STS-67 in 1995 and STS-81 in 1997. Massimino, from Franklin
Square, N.Y., will be making his second trip to Hubble and his second
spaceflight. He performed two spacewalks to service the telescope during
the STS-109 mission in 2002.

Feustel, Good and McArthur were each selected as astronauts in 2000.
Feustel, a native of Lake Orion, Mich., was an exploration geophysicist
in the petroleum industry at the time of his selection by NASA. Good is
from Broadview Heights, Ohio, and is an Air Force colonel and weapons’
systems officer. He graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School,
having logged more than 2,100 hours in 30 different types of aircraft.
McArthur, born in Honolulu, considers California her home state. An
oceanographer and former chief scientist at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography, she has a doctorate from the University of California-San
Diego.

The two new Hubble instruments are the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS)
and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). The COS is the most sensitive
ultraviolet spectrograph ever flown on Hubble. The instrument will probe
the cosmic web, the large-scale structure of the universe whose form is
determined by the gravity of dark matter and is traced by the spatial
distribution of galaxies and intergalactic gas.

WFC3 is a new camera sensitive across a wide range of wavelengths
(colors), including infrared, visible and ultraviolet light. It will
have a broad inquiry from the planets in our solar system to the early
and distant galaxies beyond Hubble’s current reach, to nearby galaxies
with stories to tell about their star formation histories.

Other planned work includes installing a refurbished Fine Guidance
Sensor that replaces one degrading unit of the three already onboard.
The sensors control the telescope’s pointing system. An attempt will
also be made to repair the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph.
Installed in 1997, it stopped working in 2004. The instrument is used
for high resolution studies in visible and ultraviolet light of both
nearby star systems and distant galaxies, providing information about
the motions and chemical makeup of stars, planetary atmospheres and
other galaxies.

“Hubble has been rewriting astronomy text books for more than 15 years,
and all of us are looking forward to the new chapters that will be added
with future discoveries and insights about our universe,” said Mary
Cleave, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission
Directorate.

The Hubble servicing mission is an 11-day flight. Following launch, the
shuttle will rendezvous with the telescope on the third day of the
flight.
Using the shuttle’s mechanical arm, the telescope will be placed on a
work platform in the cargo bay. Five separate spacewalks will be needed
to accomplish all of the mission objectives.

“The Hubble mission will be an exciting mission for the shuttle team.
The teams have used the experiences gained from Return to Flight and
station assembly to craft a very workable Hubble servicing flight. The
inspection and repair techniques, along with spacewalk planning from
station assembly, were invaluable in showing this mission is feasible,”
said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier.
“There are plenty of challenges ahead as the teams do the detailed
planning and figure the best way to provide for a launch on need
capability for the mission. There is no question that this highly
motivated and dedicated flight control team will meet the challenge.”

The Hubble Space Telescope is an international cooperative project
between NASA and the European Space Agency.

For more information about the mission and the Hubble, visit:
Hubble Space Telescope