The Hubble is getting upgraded!

Space Shuttle Atlantis is chasing after the Hubble Space Telescope today, catching up before noon EDT. Live coverage at NASA’s web site, schedule of mission here, and a great shot of Launch Pad 39A before the launch of the shuttle here. There is about a weeks worth of repairs and upgrades to the telescope, then a landing at KSC if all goes well on Friday 22 May.

I’m just going to have it on my computer in the background while I work – luckily I can do that. I’m going to miss the grappling and berthing part this afternoon, but the hour and a half chase puts space movies into perspective on how long it takes to catch up to something up there. “Standard Orbit, Mr Sulu” takes a lot longer than you think!

I remember the Hubble 19 years ago and some of the jokes that circulated, calling it a white elephant. Yet, from the beginning and over time, with repair and upgrade missions, it has continued to astound scientists, astronomers, and the general public, with the knowledge and information that it has provided. Somehow, there is a depth of emotion attached to the Hubble for some of us. It is such an excellent example of the continuing need for development and advancement in technology and science.

Wishing everyone good luck in a safe and productive mission.

I’m interested in seeing how efficient the spacewalking astronauts are in conducting precision repairs (removing/installing tiny screws, etc.) while wearing their bulky spacesuits and gloves. I believe I saw a report that they’d have to remove or replace around 170 or so small fasteners.

Best of luck to all involved. :slight_smile:

Most, if not all of the students we teach/mentor are younger than Hubble. I was their age when it was launched back in 1990. I love looking at the amazing images it has sent us these past 19years.

Grapple complete!

That’s why they get a bunch of cool tools. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103915475

I don’t know what NASA’s plans are, but since the Hubble has brought such amazing information to us over the years, and proved that it was worth the investment (as far as I know), it would be amazing if we could bring it home when it is finally retired. Think about it, it could be part of a museum exibt filled with a collage of the images it has taken over the years. And just the knowledge that it’s been living in space as long as I have been living on Earth is just freaking awesome. While on that note, I think Spirit and Opportunity should get a ride home when we finally meet them there. :smiley:

Pre-docking photo: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090516.html I have to admit that’s a good camera shot.

I heard from someone that they already had trouble with one bolt. The tool had a torque limit so as to not break the bolt, but the bolt was stuck fast. Finally, after a long struggle, and much against the ground crew advice, the astronaut upped the torque and got the bolt off.

Schnabel: I’m rather hoping that space travel becomes more common in the future, and that a group of students goes up to take over that rickity ol’ telescope their grandparents sent up. Isn’t that how it always was?

Unfortunately, Hubble’s grown too large to fit back into the payload bay. :frowning: There’s an uncited Wikipedia article that says NASA originally intended to return her to the Earth, but it’s really not a possibility now. With the docking station who knows, maybe we’ll be able to take our kids/grandkids to see her hanging in the National Air and Space Museum. :slight_smile:

While it’d be neat to see Spirit and Opportunity come back, I think I’d be far more interested in going on a little field trip to meet them in their natural habitat. :stuck_out_tongue: