Space Center Shuttle Status Report, December 27,1999, 9:30
Sunday, December 27, 1999
Sunday, December 26, 1999
NASA-Style, December 25, 1999
Space.com, Saturday, December 25, 1999
- Discovery returns Hubble to Duty
Saturday, December 25, 1999
Christmas Eve with the Hubble Family
Friday, December 24, 1999 - Update for 7:35 p.m. EST
Friday, December 24, 1999 - Santa to check out new vehicle
hangar at shuttle runway
Thursday, December 23, 1999 - Hubble's return to science duty
assured thanks to Discovery
Ballet in Space: How to be
a Hubble Spacewalker - Dec.22, 1999
Wednesday, December 22, 1999 - Astronauts catch telescope,
ready to begin repairs
- December 21, 1999: Shuttle snares space telescope
Tuesday, December 21, 1999 - Hubble Safely attached
Monday, December 20, 1999 - Hubble's wait almost over
Space Center Shuttle Status Report, December 19,1999, 8:30
HST Project Update, December 19,
1999, 9:30, a.m. EST
Space Center Shuttle Status Report, December 19,1999,
1:30 a.m. EST
Space Center Shuttle Status Report, December 27, 1999, 9:30
STS-103 - 3rd Hubble Space Telescope Servicing
contact: Bruce Buckingham
orbiter Discovery landed successfully tonight on the second
KSC landing opportunity at 7:01 p.m. EST. The first landing
opportunity was waved-off due to unacceptably high cross winds
at the Shuttle Landing Facility. The landing occurred on KSC
Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway 33. On this mission,
STS-103, the orbiter and crew traveled over 3,267,000 miles.
of mission elapsed times are:
Time Mission Elapse Time
Gear Touchdown 7:00:47 p.m. 7 days/23 hours/10 minutes/47
Gear Touchdown 7:00:58 p.m. 7 days/23 hours/10 minutes/58
Stop 7:01:34 p.m. 7 days/23 hours/11 minutes/34 seconds
close inspection of the orbiter following touchdown, engineers
noted that a black tile was missing on the right inboard elevon,
next to the fuselage. The missing tile measures 9 inches by
41/2 inches. No significant damage to the orbiter was found
and the flight crew was never in any danger due to the missing
tile. Initial indications are the tile came off sometime just
prior to final approach. Further analysis will take place
over the next several days once the orbiter is in the Orbiter
to the OPF is scheduled to begin at about 12 midnight tonight.
Once in the OPF, the Discovery's systems will be deserviced
and vehicle safing will be conducted over the next two days.
Discovery, as well the other two vehicles at KSC, will be
powered-down for the remainder of the holidays. Normal vehicle
processing is scheduled to commence Jan. 4.
seven-member astronaut crew will spend tonight in Florida.
Tomorrow they are scheduled to depart at about 2:30 p.m. from
Patrick Air Force Base for their homes in Houston, TX.
TODAY - December 27, 1999
targets Kennedy Space Center landing
By Robyn Suriano
CANAVERAL, Fla. - Their work done in space, shuttle Discovery's
crew is due home tonight at Kennedy Space Center after successfully
repairing the Hubble Space Telescope last week.
crew prepared Sunday for landing at 5:24 p.m. EST (2224 GMT)
tonight. Weather looks good, but NASA will have its back-up
landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California ready
just in case.
want the ship home today or Tuesday, so enough time is left
to turn off its systems and secure the $2 billion spaceship
inside a KSC hangar before year's end.
they don't expect any problems, NASA wants its shuttles safely
stored to avoid any Y2K computer glitches.
always, NASA prefers to land in Florida. So if weather is
bad tonight, but promises to clear here Tuesday, NASA probably
would keep the ship in space an extra day.
now the weather looks good for them to land (tonight) at the
Kennedy Space Center," said NASA spokeswoman Eileen Hawley
at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "But Edwards will
be fully supported in case we need it."
Dec. 19, Discovery's crew captured the Hubble Space Telescope
last week with the shuttle's robot arm so it could be placed
inside the ship's cargo bay and fixed by spacewalking astronauts.
three trips outside, astronauts repaired the observatory's
broken pointing system and installed improved equipment to
keep Hubble working until the next NASA visit in 2001.
temporarily had stopped taking images when the pointing system
broke down in November.
its release back into orbit Christmas day, the $3-billion
telescope could start work again around Jan. 9. Early checks
show the telescope is working fine - much to the joy of anxious
was a wonderful, incredibly successful mission," said Anne
Kinney, who was among the Hubble scientists spending the holiday
in Houston to monitor the mission. "It was hard to miss Christmas,
there's no doubt about that. People were missing their families,
calling their families. But I don't think anybody would have
been anywhere else."
TODAY - December 26, 1999
released after repairs
CENTER, Houston (AP) -- After bestowing more than a dozen
gifts on the Hubble Space Telescope, space shuttle Discovery's
astronauts on Saturday accomplished the last big job of their
holiday repair mission: releasing the world's finest observatory
to resume its scientific quest.
Jean-Francois Clervoy used Discovery's robot arm to lift Hubble
from the shuttle cargo bay and, as the spacecraft sped more
than 370 miles above the South Pacific, gently let it go.
The 43-foot telescope gleamed as it slowly drifted away against
the backdrop of a blue, cloud-dotted Earth.
for the great Christmas present,'' Mission Control told the
astronauts. ``It's just what we wanted.''
Hubble moved out of sight, shuttle commander Curtis Brown
Jr. noted the appropriateness of delivering Hubble back into
orbit on Christmas. He wished everyone on planet Earth a merry
Christmas and happy, healthy new millennium and so did his
six crew members, in five languages.
is very special on Christmas Day that we're going to return
Hubble back to the heavens and allow it to look at the stars
like people did thousands and thousands of years ago,'' Brown
said earlier in the day.
inside and out, the $3 billion telescope had been parked aboard
the shuttle since Tuesday. Two teams of spacewalking mechanics
spent three straight days replacing broken and outdated instruments.
In all, they put in 13 boxes of gear worth close to $70 million.
a Christmas for Hubble,'' exclaimed program manager John Campbell.
``Six gyros, new ones, not normally found under the tree.
A new computer. Better batteries. Everybody needs batteries
on Christmas. More storage. New clothes. Better fine guidance,
and everybody needs better guidance on Christmas. And a new
can't wait to begin using the Hubble again. The first observations
are expected in two weeks, ending a two-month hiatus, the
longest ever for the 9-year-old observatory.
unparalleled eye to the universe closed on Nov. 13 following
a series of gyroscope breakdowns. Without enough functioning
gyroscopes, the telescope could not hold steady while focusing
on stars, galaxies and other cosmic targets.
astronauts replaced all six gyroscopes during the first spacewalk
and equipped each of the telescope's six batteries with voltage
regulators to prevent overheating. Once the observatory was
free of Discovery, the new gyroscopes took control, prompting
cheers in orbit and Mission Control.
was a little bit of a sorry departure,'' astronaut John Grunsfeld
told The Associated Press in an interview late Saturday. ``We
felt like we could have stayed a little bit longer, learned
a little bit more, and that's the way it goes. So we're just
happy that everything went so well and that Hubble's on its
way to start observing again.''
2 had the crew replacing Hubble's 1970s-era computer with
a faster, more powerful model and improving the telescope's
aim with a new guidance unit. Spacewalk 3 saw the addition
of a new radio transmitter, a top-of-the-line data recorder
and large solar shades.
of the rushed pace in orbit, the astronauts had little time
to relax let alone celebrate Christmas -- until the third
and final spacewalk ended late Friday.
appeared in Discovery's crew cabin, in red suit, cap and beard,
to wish Merry Christmas to boys and girls everywhere, especially
those in Houston.
a holiday call to Discovery, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin
asked the seven astronauts if they had spotted Santa delivering
presents. Brown said that although they were real busy, they
caught a couple glimpses and even had a visit from the big
he must have blessed you because that was one wonderful mission,''
Goldin replied. ``Everyone on this planet is going to share
the fruits of what you have done ... you've done all of us
is due back on Earth on Monday. NASA cut the mission from
10 to eight days and eliminated a fourth spacewalk in order
to get the shuttle back in plenty of time before New Year's
Eve, to avoid any potential Y2K computer problems.
Hubble Girl's Perspective]
the perfect ending to a NASA-style Christmas, Hubble and Discovery
thrilled their Houston team with a spectacular light show
over NASA's Johnson Space Center. Just two hours after releasing
the telescope, Discovery streaked across the Houston sky with
Hubble following close behind.
the lawn outside Mission Control, Discovery appeared as a
brilliant light with a long, veil-like wake. Hubble trailed
about eight miles behind, less bright but breathtaking nonetheless.
About 20 of us stood in awe and gratitude as we savored this
finale to an unforgettable Christmas Day.
the crew of Discovery gave us the best possible Christmas
present by returning a healthy Hubble to duty. Now they soared
overhead, treating us to a lovely Christmas light show as
they released cabin water into the night sky. "They're
flushing over us!" someone joked. But as we admired the
bride-veil effect created by the release, I was happy to have
them flush over my head.
a moment it was over, and Discovery and Hubble disappeared
into shadow. We stepped back into the Control Center just
in time to serenade our orbiting heroes with NASA-fied versions
of familiar Christmas carols. The first was to the tune of
"Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer".with apologies to
the Goddard payload
a famous history,
with its broken gyros,
really couldn't see.
of the other telescopes
were junk if they broke down,
Hubble had one last hope,
from Houston town.
one starry Christmas Day,
and John and Mike and Claude,
and Scott, and Jean-Francois.
all the Flight Team loves you
we're finally out of here,
instead of Christmas,
to celebrate New Year!
Christmas from one tired but elated Hubble girl here in Houston.
- December 25, 1999
Returns Hubble to Duty: Astronomers Ecstatic
By Glen Golightly
Houston Bureau Chief
- The once ailing Hubble Space Telescope soared away from
space shuttle Discovery today - one step closer to being back
in the science business.
370 miles above the Coral Sea, Discovery's crew released the
telescope at 6:03 p.m. EST and began inching their spacecraft
away, careful to avoid damaging or contaminating Hubble with
the shuttle's maneuvering jets.
release followed three days of spacewalks to put the telescope
back into operation.
process began at 3 p.m. EST when robot arm operator Jean-Franeois
Clervoy grappled the 12.5-ton, 43.5-foot tall telescope. In
short order, the telescope fired up under its own power as
ground controllers ran tests.
4:05 p.m. EST, the three locks holding Hubble to Discovery
were undone and Clervoy lifted the telescope up and slightly
over Discovery's right side.
a Christmas for Hubble -- six gyros, new ones, not normally
found under the tree."
Dr. John Campbell - Hubble Project Manager
controllers opened the telescope's aperture door about 5:15
p.m. EST to ensure it operated properly while astronauts could
still get to it.
Foale and Claude Nicollier stood by to make a spacewalk in
case there were any problems in deployment.
6:03 p.m., Discovery's arm released the telescope and commander
Curt Brown and pilot Scott Kelly inched the shuttle away from
the telescope with a burst of the orbiter's thrusters. About
20 minutes later, Discovery fired its maneuvering jets to
move further away.
for an excellent deployment," said astronaut Stephen Robinson
from mission control in Houston. "Thanks for the great Christmas
present -- just what we wanted."
round of applause went up in mission control at 6:20 p.m.
EST when telescope controllers at Goddard Space Flight Center
in Greenbelt, MD, announced Hubble was operating well and
pointing toward the sun to charge its batteries.
$3 billion dollar telescope had been out of commission since
Nov. 15 when one of its three operating gyros failed. That
changed the mission from routine repair to a rescue mission,
but numerous delays pushed the October launch date into late
with the Hubble was sweet sorrow for astronomer and spacewalker
John Grunsfeld, but he seemed satisfied with his work.
was a little bit of a sorry departure. We felt like we could
have stayed a little bit longer, learned a little bit more
and that's the way it goes," Grunsfeld said Saturday night.
We're just happy everything went so well and that Hubble is
on its way to start observing again.
last minute technical delays, NASA launched Discovery on Dec.
19, the last possible day to launch before mid-January. The
space agency wanted the shuttle on the ground well before
the year's end to avoid any computer glitches.
three spacewalks, astronauts replaced all six gyros, a guidance
sensor and a radio transmitter. They also installed an improved
computer, voltage regulators and data recorder. The scientific
community seems to be excited about its large and improved
was hard to miss Christmas, I think there's no doubt about
that, people were phoning their families and missing their
families and so on," said Dr. Anne Kinney, a NASA astronomer.
"I don't anybody would have been anywhere else."
John Campbell, Hubble project manager, thought the telescope
makes a dandy Christmas present.
a Christmas for Hubble -- six gyros, new ones, not normally
found under the tree," he said with a grin. "A new computer,
better batteries, everybody needs batteries during Christmas,
more storage, new clothes, better fine guidance and everybody
needs better guidance and a new radio transmitter."
new clothes are insulation blankets installed by spacewalkers.
The 2001 mission to the telescope will finish the task.
in the day, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin congratulated the
crew and asked if they'd seen Santa while in orbit.
replied Santa had visited the orbiter.
praised the crew and also took time to rebut space agency
critics' charges that the mission was rushed and potentially
other thing that gives me tremendous pride and pleasure is
how conscientious the entire NASA team was about safety,"
Goldin said. "Never once did they worry about schedules and
made sure that when the shuttle took off, it was in perfect
could begin some observations in as little as two weeks if
early tests go well. It should be back in full operation by
sometime in March 2000.
space agency plans two more servicing missions to the telescope
in 2001 and 2003. Hubble will possibly be returned to Earth
in 2010 at the end of its mission by a space shuttle.
TODAY - December 25, 1999
Discovery crew spends their holiday in the heavens
By Robyn Suriano
CANAVERAL - Shuttle Discovery's astronauts will see their
loved ones today during video conferences from Earth to orbit.
And the crew will float around the table together for their
the Christmas trappings are few in space, where the astronauts
will spend the holiday casting free the newly repaired Hubble
the final task of their 8-day mission, which included three
spacewalks to fix Hubble's broken pointing system and make
other improvements. The last walk wrapped up late Friday.
work done, the crew is to use Discovery's robot arm to release
Hubble into orbit around 6 p.m. tonight, then head for a Monday
landing at Kennedy Space Center and belated holiday celebrations.
- don't tell him, but astronaut Mike Foale will get some gifts
here in Florida, when wife Rhonda and their two children congratulate
him for giving Hubble a new computer brain on a spacewalk.
miss him, and whenever we're having fun, the kids say, `I
wish Daddy was here,' but they understand he's doing something
important,'' said Rhonda Foale at home in Houston. "They know
he'll be back soon, and we'll have another Christmas dinner
crew is only the third American mission in space for Christmas
in NASA history.
Apollo 8 crew celebrated the 1968 holiday in orbit around
the moon, and three astronauts spent Christmas 1973 on NASA's
Skylab space station.
time, the agency didn't expect Discovery to be in space for
the holiday, but repeated launch delays pushed the mission
into Christmas week.
the ship had been packed and closed for flight long before,
NASA officials say they didn't send along a special holiday
meal or tuck away little gifts for the hard-working crew.
why it will be all business in space, where astronauts Steve
Smith and John Grunsfeld made the flight's last walk Friday.
The Christmas Eve excursion included work on a radio transmitter
and data recorder.
John, another beautiful day outside," Smith said when he popped
open the hatch leading into Discovery's cargo bay. "Look at
that Earth, beautiful."
work ended late Friday, after they replaced a broken radio
transmitter, installed an advanced data recorder and applied
two new metal sheets of insulation over areas of Hubble.
Eve with the Hubble Family
[One Hubble Girl's Perspective]
by Ann Jenkins
the night before Christmas and here we are in Houston, more
than a thousand miles from our homes and families and anything
resembling a normal Christmas Eve. We're the Hubble team from
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., but
for now, we're living here in Houston, working at Johnson
Space Center, supporting the STS-103 mission. And Christmas
just happens to fall in the middle of this very important
visit to our beloved telescope.
families try to understand why this is so important to us,
why we need to be away during the holidays. We fight to stay
focused and philosophical, but the truth is, as Christmas
looms, we're all feeling the pangs of separation.
thankfully, we're together-our little Hubble family-and most
of us have been for a very long time. Many have worked all
three Hubble servicing missions. Ours is not a 9-to-5 job,
especially in the months leading up to launch. We've been
through a lot together, and we've grown close because of it.
Some of us know each other so well we swear we're becoming
the East Coast, it's already Christmas now. Kevin, who sits
to my left, has three little ones whose pictures he's pasted
all over his console. He talks about them constantly, but
he won't be seeing them on Christmas Day. Maureen, Colleen
and Mindy are apart from their children, too. Come to think
of it, many teammates have kids back home. But these parents
truly believe that this mission will benefit not only their
children and grandchildren, but also generations beyond. This
is their Christmas gift to humanity.
look around the room and search for words to describe this
group. Dedicated.passionate.brilliant.creative.yes, that's
all true-but also so much more. We are a family.
after NASA declared mission success and guided Santa into
Houston, we shared Christmas dinner together here in Mission
Control. Though I can't be with my own family tonight, I feel
very privileged to break bread with this group-a close-knit,
loyal clan bound not by blood but by vision.
Christmas from Houston.
Friday, December 24, 1999
for 7:35 p.m. EST
NASA's Santa Control has confirmed the jolly old elf
made a touchdown in the greater Houston area. The image
at left shows his approach to JSC. Control reports Santa
has delivered his presents and then took off again on
a trajectory over the Gulf of Mexico, presumably to
a visit at Cape Canaveral. Of course, your home may
for 7:30 p.m. EST
Discovery is in daylight now, flying over Australia with its
tail first, nearly at the end of orbit number 75.
The spacewalk is expected to last another two hours or so.
The next task is to install the new insulation.
Mission commentator Kyle Herring just plugged the fact that
Houston is about to have an opportunity to see Discovery and
Hubble fly overhead within the hour.
Herring said that NASA's Web site for information about the
possibility of seeing the shuttle in your area is located
for 7 p.m. EST
The new recorder is being checked by flight controllers on
the ground and the door to the area is being closed and latched
with six bolts.
Next up is to install some new insulation on the outer skin
of Hubble, replacing some insulation that has torn and peeled
through the nine-and-a-half years that the observatory has
been in orbit.
If it could all get done, the astronauts would like to cover
six bays with the new insulation. They will do the first two
and then Mission Control will decide what to do next based
on how long they take to do the first pair.
The spacewalk can only last about seven hours and they need
about one hour to do the final clean up in the cargo bay since
the bay must be configured for landing.
for 6:30 p.m. EST
Grunsfeld has the new recorder in place and has bolted it
into place. A few feet lower on the telescope, Smith is installing
devices that will allow the two spacewalkers to install new
insulation on the outer skin of Hubble later tonight.
They have just passed into night again and there are no reports
yet of spotting Santa Claus from space, although Santa was
seen earlier today on NASA TV in Mission Control in Houston.
for 6:20 p.m. EST
Grunsfeld is still in the foot restraint on the end of the
robot arm and has just handed off the old data recorder to
Smith. The new recorder is in Grunsfeld's hands and he is
being moved back up to the telescope to install the new device.
The spacewalk has just passed the four-hour mark.
for 6 p.m. EST
The spacewalking astronauts have finished installing a new
radio transmitter and have moved on to the process of installing
a new solid-state data recorder for the telescope. The 25-pound
device replaces an old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder.
for 4:30 p.m. EST
John Grunsfeld is working diligently to remove a series of
connectors on a failed radio transmitter. The coaxial cables
are a little thinner than the ones you might connect to the
back of your TV or VCR but they have the same kind of end.
Anyone who has had difficulty connecting these cables to your
home electronics might only begin to imagine what it would
be like to try to connect these same type of connectors to
a device in the weightless space environment, while wearing
Grunsfeld does have some tools to help him, and it sounds
like it's going very well, but the fact is that this is one
of the few devices on Hubble that was not designed from the
beginning to be serviced by spacewalking astronauts.
Smith continues to free float, assisting Grunsfeld as needed
and also making inspections of Hubble.
This work should continue for about an hour.
Our next report will come about 5:45 p.m. EST if all goes
well. If any serious problems arise we will update the site
for 4:05 p.m. EST
Mission Control reports that with the successful test of the
OCE package the crew of mission STS-103 has now effectively
completed all of the major goals for this mission from the
viewpoint of the Hubble Space Telescope community. The mission
itself won't be a success, of course, until Discovery's crew
is safely back on Earth next Monday.
for 4 p.m. EST
Mission Control reports that the first repair task today was
successful after the new Optical Control Electronics package
passed its alivness test.
Grunsfeld is still on the robot arm and Smith is free floating.
They have moved to a position more on the front of the telescope
as seen from the flight deck windows, where they are about
to replace a radio transmitter that failed in 1998.
As usual the work involves opening a door, removing electrical
and mechanical attachments for the old unit, installing the
new, taking some pictures of their work and then closing the
doors again. This task should take about an hour-and-a-half.
There was some discussion about taking a few minutes to install
some hand rail protective covers on the telescope but Mission
Control asked the crew to press on with the planned tasks
for 3:30 p.m. EST
Smith and Grunsfeld are mating the electrical connectors to
the new Optical Control Electronics package that is part of
the system Hubble needs to accurately point while stargazing.
The effort is going very well and you can tell that this is
the second spacewalk of the mission for both men as they are
more talkative, in good humor and clearly enjoying their time
out in the cargo bay.
At this point we will begin updating this Web site about every
half-hour, with a longer break at 5 p.m. while I attend my
children's Christmas program at church. FLORIDA TODAY's senior
aerospace writer Robyn Suriano will be monitoring the spacewalk
and we'll update the site immediately if anything seriously
for 3:20 p.m. EST
Mission Control has given the astronauts a go for the first
task today, which is to install some new electronics into
the telescope that will help the Fine Guidance Sensor.
The work area is fairly high up on the telescope. Smith is
free floating and climbed up the telescope himself, with Mike
Foale from the inside of Discovery reminding him to stay tethered
to Hubble at all times.
Grunsfeld, on the other hand, had to request a ride on the
end of the arm, asking Jean-Francois Clervoy to "beam me up!"
you up," Clervoy replied.
This work area is more "behind" the telescope than the other
areas and very near the solar arrays. The spacewalkers outside
and Mike Foale directing things from the inside are constantly
reminding each other not to lean back.
At 3:17 p.m. the spacewalkers had the door to the Bay C area
open and were about to tether the door open and begin removing
electrical connectors on the old piece of equipment.
for 3 p.m. EST
Daily set up was officially complete at 2:58 p.m. EST.
Grunsfeld is in the foot restraint at the end of the robot
arm on the foot restraint. Since he is wearing Mike Foale's
top half of the spacesuit parts of his upper suit has a broken
red stripe on it.
Meanwhile, Mission Control reports that the portable foot
restraint that kept flopping around yesterday because of a
stuck foot switch will not be used today. A second device
will be used instead.
At the end of the spacewalk the balky platform will be attached
and secured in the cargo bay as planned for the landing.
Also, just a minute ago a robot arm TV camera pointed down
on Florida. We waved out the window and captured the image,
which we'll post online in a few minutes. Consider it a Christmas
wave from Space Online via NASA TV.
for 2:45 p.m. EST
Both men can now be seen on NASA TV outside in the cargo bay.
Steve Smith has worked his way down to the area where Hubble
is attached to the cargo bay. John Grunsfeld is still working
at the airlock in and around the robot arm.
Once again, Smith's suit has a solid red stripe, while Grunsfeld's
suit has no markings.
For the record - I think I finally have it straight - the
idea of marking the spacesuits to tell the difference between
astronauts was to begin with the Apollo 13 mission with red
markings on Jim Lovell's suit. But we never saw those pictures
on the moon following the mission's abort.
During the July 1969 Apollo 11 mission you couldn't tell the
difference between Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. By the
time the idea was presented to mark the suits it was too late
for Apollo 12's mission in November 1969 with Pete Conrad
and Alan Bean. (Not that it really mattered because of the
lack of TV coverage of the moonwalk after the failure of the
Apollo 14's Alan Shepard was the first to be seen on the Moon
wearing a suit marked in red.
for 2:35 p.m. EST
Routine set up chores are in work right now, including retriving
tools from the airlock to attach to the mini work station
on the shuttle's robot arm and installing what is essentially
another leg for the ring platform holding Hubble in the cargo
The first major task will be to install some new electronics
that will help the Fine Guidance Sensors do a better job in
helping point Hubble while it makes its science observations.
for 2:30 p.m. EST
Steve Smith is now outside the shuttle's airlock, floating
in the cargo bay. He left just about three minutes ago.
John, another beautiful day outside." Smith said after popping
open the thermal cover to the outside hatch. "Oh look at that
During final suit checks read off by Smith, he reported his
suit remaining time as seven hours and 48 minutes, 97 percent
power and 99 percent oxygen. Suit had 18.1 volts DC and 3.4
I did not copy Grunsfeld's report.
for 2:17 p.m. EST
With no radio traffic or mission control commentary describing
the airlock depressurization, Mike Foale performed a radio
check and then the next thing you know Smith and Grunsfeld
were on their batteries, officially beginning this third spacewalk
at 2:17 p.m EST, according to my clock.
The airlock is depressurized, the hatch is open and the two
spacewalkers are just about ready to float outside.
for 2:10 p.m. EST
The lead Orbit 1 flight control team have taken charge in
the Mission Control Center. That means that Linda Hamm is
the flight director, astronaut Steve Robinson is the CAPCOM
and mission commentator is Kyle Herring.
Among the goals for today's spacewalk: replace a recorder,
install some new electronics and add some new layers of insulation
to the outer skin of Hubble.
for 2 p.m. EST
Steve Smith and John Grunsfeld are inside Discovery's airlock
pre-breathing pure oxygen to rid their bloodstreams of any
nitrogen, to avoid getting the bends when they expose their
bodies to the lower air pressure inside their spacesuits.
for 1 p.m. EST
Mission Control reports that Steve Smith and John Grunsfeld
are right on the timeline preparing for today's spacewalk
and will likely begin their adventure at 2:20 p.m. EST. The
spacewalk is expected to last about seven-and-a-half hours.
There are no problems reported with the new suit that John
Grunsfeld will wear today. The one he wore during Wednesday's
spacewalk would not power up properly today, so he is going
to wear the spacesuit that Mike Foale wore yesterday.
Once the two men are outside we will provide updates to this
page every 30 minutes.
for 12:30 p.m. EST
Preparations today for the third spacewalk ran into a minor
hitch this morning in that one of the spacesuits power system
wouldn't properly work, forcing a last-minute change to use
a back up spacesuit instead.
The Extravehicular Mobility Units - spacesuits - come in two
major pieces, the top and the bottom. Both the tops and the
bottoms come in standard sizes, which can be somewhat adjusted
for a particular astronaut. Long gone are the days when an
astronauts spacesuit was sized just for him.
Haven't heard an exact time yet when the crew thinks they
can begin the spacewalk today. We'll pass that along as soon
as we hear.
December 23, 1999
for 10:30 p.m. EST
The Orbit 2 flight team has taken over at Mission Control.
The two spacewalkers are still in the airlock, which is repressurizing
now. Everything sounds like things are going well with the
Mission Commentator Kyle Herring reports the official spacewalk
start time was 2:06 p.m. EST and the official stop time was
10:16 p.m. EST, making the official spacewalk duration of
eight hours and 10 minutes.
Still the third longest spacewalk in program history.
I'll make a brief but meaningless observation that I stopped
my timer when I heard Foale report they had gone off battery
power, which was precisely five minutes sooner than the official
time. Nothing to lose sleep over.
Which sounds like a good idea right about now.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and there is a third spacewalk planned.
Space Online will offer updates throughout the day in between
last-minute wrapping of presents and cleaning the house before
grandpa and grandma come.
If your day becomes too hectic and you can't stop by to read
our reports, please accept our wishes for a wonderful holiday
weekend with friends and family.
Good night from Cape Canaveral.
- Jim Banke
for 10:15 p.m. EST
Mike Foale could be seen on NASA TV entering the airlock at
10:03 p.m EST and shutting the thermal cover for the outer
airlock hatch behind him.
The hatch was closed by Foale at 10:07 p.m. EST.
Nicollier and Foale went off suit battery power (unofficially
based on my clock) at 10:11 p.m. making this spacewalk eight
hours and five minutes long, the third-longest spacewalk in
U.S. space history.
The second longest was completed yesterday at eight hours
and 15 minutes, while the longest was in May 1992 aboard shuttle
Endeavour at eight hours and 29 minutes.
Discovery's cargo bay is now empty of any astronauts, but
the Hubble Space Telescope remains on its pedestal with a
new computer brain and a new Fine Guidance Sensor thanks to
for 10 p.m. EST
The two spacewalkers are stuffing the airlock with some of
their tools, as well as the balky portable foot restraint.
Nicollier entered the airlock at 9:54 p.m. EST and it appears
he's inside to stay.
Foale is still outside, but right at the airlock's entrance
stowing his tethers.
for 9:45 p.m. EST
At 9:37 p.m. Mike Foale's spacesuit sent him an alarm saying
his suit is running low on battery power. The spacewalk was
seven hours and 31 minutes long at that point.
Anticipating the suit warning, CAPCOM Steve Robinson radioed
to Foale a moment earlier that when Foale heard the alarm
he could ignore it because at that point Foale still had another
90 minutes of power. At the beginning of the spacewalk, when
Foale read aloud his suit status, he said he was good for
seven hours and 59 minutes.
Mission Control says the pair of spacewalkers should be inside
and off the suit power in about 20 minutes, making their spacewalk
duration about eight hours. Both men are now in the vicinity
of the airlock.
for 9:30 p.m. EST
During the clean up operation Foale attached the portable
foot restraint to its storage place and then discovered a
Although the pin holding the device to the shuttle was secure,
the platform itself would not stop from flopping around -
apparently a problem with a switch that allows the astronauts
to move the platform back and forth in a pitching motion while
their feet are locked in place.
Mission Control has decided the crew should bring the platform
inside, despite its relative bulkiness, and let them troubleshoot
the problem overnight.
The platform will have to come back out tomorrow, possibly
to be used, although there is a second portable foot restraint
device on board.
The safety concern is that mission managers do not want the
device flopping around during the landing, so they are going
to figure out the best way to tether it in place in the cargo
bay if the switch cannot be fixed.
for 9:15 p.m. EST
Clean up work continues in the cargo bay.
Nicollier is still on the foot restraint at the end of the
robot arm, suspended in the middle of the cargo bay and working
on his mini-work station.
Foale is behind him, next to the equipment storage boxes near
the base of the telescope.
Note: Earlier I wrote that Nicollier had been present for
the five Hubble spacewalks in 1997. I actually wrote 1993,
which is correct, but a solar flare must have bit-flipped
the number to 1997 when I uploaded. I've corrected the earlier
entry and thanks for the e-mail from several European friends.
- Jim Banke
for 9 p.m. EST
The old Fine Guidance Sensor has been placed in its hold in
the cargo bay, strapped into place and the door to the box
shut according to what we can see on NASA TV at this time.
for 8:50 p.m. EST
The thinking is that with the clean up work still to do and
the remaining suit time available to the two crewmen it wasn't
a good idea to try anything else tonight.
Now six hours and 44 minutes into the spacewalk.
for 8:45 p.m. EST
Shuttle Discovery's crew has politely asked to do some more
work outside today, but Mission Control politely said no thanks.
As a result the spacewalkers will be cleaning up and moving
inside within the hour.
for 8:30 p.m. EST
The doors to the Fine Guidance Sensor are closed and Nicollier
is driving the three bolts to latch the doors shut.
Meanwhile, Hubble flight controllers report the new Fine Guidance
Sensor has passed its initial aliveness test, meaning they
are able to see electrical power and data commands go through
The view from NASA TV right now shows the shuttle approaching
sunrise, with a bright blue horizon in the background as the
crew works in the dark. Truly incredible.
for 8:15 p.m. EST
The newly installed Fine Guidance Sensor is ready for its
aliveness test after all eight connections were mated by the
two spacewalkers and the work to load the new unit into place
was declared done.
After the initial trouble sliding the nearly 500-pound box
into place, CAPCOM Steve Robinson from Mission Control congratulated
the crew saying: "Great work, persistence pays."
The two spacewalkers are now taking detailed pictures of their
work with the new sensor unit. Next step will be to close
the doors to the work area.
TODAY - December 24, 1999
to check out new vehicle hangar at shuttle runway
commander considers hangar rest stop for next year
A Kennedy Space Center traditional holiday news release
Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) is preparing
for a visitor on Christmas Eve. Rumors are strong that Santa
Claus may fly by the landing strip to check on the progress
of the $8 million Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Support Complex
currently under construction.
groundbreaking took place on Dec. 18, 1998, just before Santa's
visit last year. The sweeping curve of the facility's roof
is plainly visible now to the center's employees from State
on the tow-way at the south end of the SLF, the complex will
include a multi-purpose RLV hangar and adjacent facilities
for related ground support equipment and administrative/technical
support. Intended to support the Space Shuttle and other RLV
and X-vehicles, the new complex is jointly funded by NASA's
Space Shuttle Program, KSC and the Spaceport Florida Authority.
The complex is scheduled for completion by mid-2000, in time
to support possible test flights of the X-34 RLV technology
demonstrator and other future vehicles.
is particularly interested in anything that has to do with
reusable launch vehicles since, technically, his sleigh falls
into that category of transportation. It has been upgraded
with state-of-the-art precision landing equipment compatible
with the Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) system and Microwave
Scanning Beam Landing System (MSBLSS) in place at the runway
for use during Space Shuttle landings. However, Santa still
relies on the tried-and-true reindeer propulsion system he
has always used to deliver presents to good children worldwide
every holiday season.
automated landing systems will be left on in the automatic
mode at both the SLF and the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral
Air Station when the facilities close down for the holidays.
"No government expense is involved in leaving these landing
strips ready to support any emergency Santa may experience
while in the Central Florida area," said Bill Plutt, the Airfield
Services Manager for Space Gateway Support. "We're glad to
continue this tradition that started shortly after the opening
of the SLF in the 1970s."
care will be taken to inspect the runway prior to Discovery's
planned landing on Dec. 27 at the conclusion of STS-103, the
third Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Although it
has never been confirmed that Santa has made a pit stop at
KSC, a routine sweep of the runway to remove debris after
the holidays last year produced one defective sleigh bell,
some tattered red ribbon, and a pile of what appeared to be
TODAY - December 23, 1999
return to science duty assured thanks to Discovery
CANAVERAL - NASA's Hubble Space Telescope can look into the
universe's deepest corners once again, thanks to two spacewalking
repairmen who fixed the observatory Wednesday.
Steve Smith and John Grunsfeld rejuvenated the telescope's
broken pointing system during an eight-hour spacewalk from
shuttle Discovery's cargo bay.
steadily while the shuttle flew 360 miles above Earth, the
men replaced equipment that directs the telescope's powerful
eye toward black holes, galaxies and other targets.
fantastic job today," astronaut Steve Robinson told the crew
from Mission Control at Johnson Space Center in Houston. "We're
very pleased with everything you've done. You deserve a good
successful work clears the way for more walks today and Friday.
the first excursion Wednesday was critical to get Hubble working
again after equipment broke down Nov. 13 and forced the telescope
to halt all science activities.
if all goes as expected, the telescope could resume taking
images in mid-January.
and Grunsfeld's handiwork started shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday,
when they floated outside in their spacesuits.
made three previous walks on NASA's last mission to Hubble
in 1997. Grunsfeld was making his spacewalk debut.
Smith asked his partner before heading out, "Hubble needs
Grunsfeld replied as he emerged to his first view of Earth
from outside. He then saw the four-story telescope towering
overhead. "That is one beautiful telescope," he said.
men had little time to sightsee, however.
immediately floated over to inspect Hubble. During NASA's
1997 visit to the telescope, astronauts found tattered areas
where the harsh environment of space had damaged the observatory's
help, the astronauts created makeshift insulation blankets
and tacked them over the worst regions.
found the bandages still in place and reported that the telescope's
skin seemed to be holding up.
don't see any peeling or flaking," he reported while floating
along the telescope. "Looks good."
men then began replacing three toaster-sized boxes holding
devices called gyroscopes that help Hubble point toward its
worked from a footstand mounted on the telescope's exterior,
while Grunsfeld was attached by his feet to the end of Discovery's
50-foot robot arm.
the ship, French astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy guided the
arm with the help of cameras and views out the shuttle's windows.
Astronaut Mike Foale oversaw his crewmates' work from indoors.
almost completely inside Hubble, Smith replaced two boxes
in delicate work that brought him very close to sensitive
television views were available from space, NASA officials
watched over Smith's shoulder from a camera mounted on the
really buried inside the telescope right now," said astronaut
Joe Tanner, a former Hubble spacewalker who followed the work
from Mission Control. "It really helps (Smith) to have long
tallest of Discovery's crew members at 6 feet, ¾ inches, Smith
was chosen to do the work inside Hubble because of his long
your arm there, Steve," Foale told the astronaut at one point
when Smith got close to equipment.
the number one thing on my mind," Smith replied.
Grunsfeld's help, Smith deftly changed two of the broken units
before his partner took over and replaced the third. The main
job was done by 6 p.m.
box holds two gyroscopes, and controllers on Earth reported
that all six devices showed early signs of working well.
men then turned to a Hubble instrument that detects infrared
radiation emitted from stars and other objects. After much
effort, they opened tightly closed valves on the instrument
to release pent-up gases inside.
critical, the work nonetheless will help other spacewalkers
when they make improvements to the instrument on a future
sticky valves took more time than expected, however, and made
the pair late for work on Hubble's six batteries.
worked efficiently however, and outfitted each battery with
equipment that will keep them from overheating when they're
being charged. Now a decade old, the batteries are growing
jobs finished for the night, the men stored their tools and
returned to the shuttle around 9:45 p.m. The walk's official
time clocked out at 8 hours, 15 minutes.
was the second longest NASA spacewalk ever, next to an 8-hour,
29-minute excursion by three astronauts in May 1992 to retrieve
a stranded satellite.
the walk flowed smoothly to the delight of Hubble scientists,
who watch any work on the telescope with dread and excitement.
hard for them to see their prized, $3-billion observatory
with its insides exposed and astronauts floating around it.
One wrong move and the telescope could be damaged.
watch with your heart in your mouth," said Hubble scientist
Anne Kinney, speaking before the mission launched. "People
live and breathe this stuff. It really means a lot to us."
mission is NASA's third trip to Hubble, which was launched
from the same spaceship in 1990. It unknowingly was built
with a bad mirror that left its vision uselessly blurry.
problem was fixed in 1993 by the first crew to visit Hubble,
and a second group returned to improve the observatory in
1997. After Discovery's current flight, future voyages are
booked in 2001 and 2003.
thinks Hubble can work through 2010, when it could be brought
back to Earth and displayed at a museum such as the Smithsonian's
National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
the remaining spacewalks, Discovery's crew is to give Hubble
an advanced computer brain and spread new insulation over
parts of the telescope. The crew would set Hubble free again
Christmas day and return to Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 27.
wants the shuttle home before year's end to avoid any potential
Y2K computer problems.
- December 22, 1999
in Space: How to Be a Hubble Spacewalker
By Andrew Chaikin
floating in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery,
365 miles above the Earth. Before you, anchored in a special
mounting, is the Hubble Space Telescope. Your mission, simply
stated, is to fix it. In other words, you have been assigned
one of the most demanding jobs ever given to an astronaut.
you're working on a satellite designed to be serviced in space
by astronauts. Hubble is outfitted with handholds for the
spacewalkers to grab onto. And its components are relatively
accessible, by opening special access doors. But that doesn't
mean your orbital repair job is easy. First off, you're working
in a pressurized space suit. And if you want to know what
that's like, just ask Story Musgrave, one of the four spacewalkers
on the first Hubble repair mission in 1993.
Woes of Working in a Space Suit
are hard," Musgrave says. "They're just miserable. Because
they're so stiff." Shuttle space suits are filled with oxygen
at a pressure of 4.3 pounds per square inch. That gives the
spacewalker enough oxygen to breathe -- but it also makes
the suit about as flexible as a balloon in a Thanksgiving-day
that reason, Musgrave was fussier than the finest tailor about
the fit of his space suit. To bend at the waist, for example,
he would need as much leverage as possible. To achieve this,
Musgrave knew, his feet and shoulders would have to make firm
contact with the suit itself. He also knew that during a six-hour
spacewalk, being inside a tight-fitting suit would compress
his spine -- which meant the suit had to be even tighter at
the start of the day. "I wear a very, very, very tight suit,"
Musgrave wriggles into his spacesuit
paid special attention to the fit of his gloves. Before the
flight, he says, "I spent two hours 'tuning' my gloves. I
tune every finger." That meant having more pressure on his
fingertips and less at the places between the fingers. It
meant precisely adjusting the length of each finger of each
glove, so that the glove's joints would coincide with those
of his fingers.
"You learn a new body."
after you have your space suit perfectly adjusted, Musgrave
says, don't expect it to feel like a second skin. "You learn
a new body. You acquire a new arm. It's not your arm. It's
not the suit arm. It's the combination of your arm and the
suit arm. The suit does not have the same joints you have,
and so you have to learn appropriately."
says a prospective spacewalker has to relearn even simple
motions -- for example, grabbing a floating tool. "If you
think you're going to get into a suit and reach out for something,
you're going to miss it," he says, unless you practice it
just what Musgrave did -- hour upon hour of practice, using
a number of methods. First, he did "walk-throughs", wearing
normal clothes, with engineers who helped design the Hubble
instruments right there, to answer any questions.
also practiced on something called the air-bearing table:
picture him perched a special platform that rides across an
ultra-smooth surface, cushioned by a thin film of pressurized
air. Working in weightlessness is like being on a three-dimensional
ice-skating rink, and the air-bearing table is designed to
show an astronaut how tricky that can be. However, it only
allows freedom of motion in two dimensions at once.
there was the "Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory", actually the
world's largest swimming pool, containing mockups of the shuttle
cargo bay and Hubble telescope. Underwater, wearing a pressurized
space suit, an astronaut can practice working in three-dimensions.
But there are drawbacks. Unlike the vacuum of space, water
creates resistance whenever you try to move through it. And
of course, a space-suited astronaut in the "water tank" doesn't
enjoy the weightless conditions of a real space walk. Being
upside down, for example, feels more like standing on your
head -- and you're likely to feel your shoulders digging into
the metal bearings inside your space suit. "The water ?is
no darn good," Musgrave says. "Even NASA doesn't really know
about all the weaknesses [of practicing] in the water."
never used a checklist. Because ... a ballerina doesn't
have a checklist and neither does an opera singer ...
We learned it by visualization."
Story Musgrave - Former Hubble Repairman
Musgrave had spent countless hours rehearsing for the Hubble
repairs by the time he and his crewmates left Earth. And most
of all, Musgrave had spent a lot of time thinking about everything
he would do during the Hubble repair. In fact, he'd been thinking
about how to repair a space telescope for about 20 years --
most of his astronaut career.
how did he feel, as he awoke on launch morning, with one of
NASA's most important missions ahead of him?
just like going to the Olympics. You are totally trained.
You are honed to the edge.. You've done what you can do. That's
it." Even so, Musgrave says, he could never be sure of success.
"You don't know whether you're going to win the Olympics.
How could you know?" In the end, he says, he looked at the
challenge the way a high-jumper does: "It's you and the bar."
When Musgrave finally emerged from the Space Shuttle's cabin
into the vacuum of space, there was a sense of familiarity
about it all. Not just because he'd trained so hard, but because
he'd walked in space before: Musgrave had made the first walk
of the shuttle program, in 1982. And months of practicing
for the repair had given him an extraordinary familiarity
with the Hubble's components.
example, if Musgrave's job was to install a new high-resolution
camera, he made sure he could visualize exactly what was going
on inside the instrument with every turn of every screw. If
that sounds like the ultimate nuts-and-bolts experience, then
Musgrave has a surprising description of the repair:
was a ballet."
ballet? Two figures in bulky space suits and massive backpacks
aren't exactly the picture of grace. And yet, Musgrave strove
for dancer's grace in his movements. "You have to worry about
every finger and toe. If you've got a hand out of place in
the ballet . you're going to lose style."
training, he says, "I would go through ballet books page after
page," studying the dancer's version of perfection, and translating
it in his mind to perfect space-walking technique.
does that perfect technique look like?
a Hubble repair, it often means working in confined areas,
like the access doorway leading to a delicate scientific instrument,
without moving your body. In such situations, Musgrave says,
"The ideal form for a space walker is to see a lot of motion
at the wrist level, less at the elbow and almost none at the
another aspect of a dancer's method that the astronauts used:
Visualization. "We never used a checklist. Because, you know,
a ballerina doesn't have a checklist and neither does an opera
singer... We learned it by visualization." The same technique
let Musgrave keep track of some three hundred separate tools.
He and his fellow spacewalkers had tools to handle every possible
contingency. And yet, even in weightlessness, in the shuttle's
cavernous cargo bay, Musgrave says he never lost track of
them. "You could ask me halfway into [any spacewalk] where
all three hundred tools were, and I could rattle them off."
keeping track of the tools sounds tough, try using them. The
hardest part of any spacewalk, Musgrave says, is working with
your hands in pressurized gloves. If you want to understand
why, try squeezing a tennis ball, repeatedly, for hours on
end. Opening and closing your hand inside a space-suit glove
is just as tiring. For that reason, Musgrave says he tried
to avoid clutching objects. "Any time I see myself grabbing
I say, 'Is there another way to do it?' I don't grab things.
I push and I touch." To use a power tool, for example, he
cradled it between his two gloves, without actually holding
Musgrave during his first Hubble spacewalk
some jobs required an almost impossible level of dexterity.
Musgrave remembers that in order to install one component,
he had to undo ten sets of connectors, which were secured
by tiny screws -- and he had to do it while his feet were
anchored on the shuttle's sixty-foot robotic arm.
were little connections in the back of this box, the size
of what's in the back of your PC. And they had little screws
that are only about three millimeters long. I had a wrench
that was about three feet long, and I was on the end of a
sixty foot arm, and I had to drive these little screws three-and-a-half
was hard enough with space suit gloves. But keeping the screws
from floating away -- possibly inside the telescope's delicate
mechanisms -- made it even tougher.
was the most demanding job I had ever done," Musgrave says.
"I was on the edge of my ability."
Glow of Success? Not Really
made three of the mission's five spacewalks. When it was all
over, Musgrave knew he had done his job well. But he didn't
share his crewmates' jubliation at a successful mission. "I
put on a smile for people," he remembers. "I felt humble and
quiet." The reason, Musgrave says, is that he couldn't be
sure, even then, that the telescope was fixed. He didn't know
that until the repaired Hubble sent back its first new images.
that time, Musgrave was back home, in Houston. He remembers
the thrill of seeing Hubble's magnificent face-on image of
the spiral galaxy called M-100. Even then, Musgrave says,
he didn't think about what he and his crewmates -- along with
dozens of flight controllers, mission planners, and engineers
-- had helped to accomplish.
was transcendent. I looked at M-100 and I said, "My God .
It's just gorgeous. And after that, then I had to think, 'Oh,
TODAY - December 22, 1999
catch telescope, ready to begin repairs
CANAVERAL, Fla. - By day's end, the Hubble Space Telescope
could be ready for another decade of work studying the cosmos.
astronauts are to fix the telescope's broken pointing system
today during the most important of three spacewalks planned
for shuttle Discovery's mission.
was captured late Tuesday by Discovery's robot arm and placed
inside the ship's cargo bay, where spacewalking astronauts
can work on the four-story observatory.
scheduled for Thursday and Friday include giving Hubble a
better computer brain and making other equipment improvements.
NASA considers today's spacewalk top priority.
after floating outside at 2:40 p.m., astronauts Steve Smith
and John Grunsfeld are to begin fixing the broken pointing
system that caused Hubble to stop its science work last month.
job calls for replacing three toaster-sized boxes holding
devices called gyroscopes, which help Hubble point toward
planets, stars and other targets.
gyroscopes on Hubble are the most accurate ever built," said
John Campbell, the telescope's project manager at NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Without them, stars
would just be fuzzy points of light. Those (gyroscopes) keep
Hubble stable and day after day, recording points of light
and sharp images."
spacewalks are possible following the perfect capture of Hubble
on Tuesday, when Discovery started out about 330 miles away
from the observatory.
gaining on the telescope all day, shuttle Commander Curt Brown
had guided his ship within 680 feet of the four-story observatory
by 7 p.m.
an Air Force colonel and fighter pilot, slowly closed the
remaining distance at less than 1 mph to bring Discovery within
35 feet of the glistening observatory.
French astronaut Jean Francois Clervoy used controls inside
the shuttle to grab onto the telescope with the shuttle's
robot arm at 7:34 p.m. At the time, the pair was flying 369
miles over the Gulf of Mexico.
we have Hubble," Clervoy radioed Mission Control at the Johnson
Space Center in Houston.
here congratulates you on your first-class job," astronaut
Steve Robinson replied from Mission Control.
Sunday from Kennedy Space Center, Discovery is on an eight-day
mission that will keep it aloft during Christmas before heading
home Dec. 27.
snares space telescope - Dec. 21, 1999
Hubble secured within Discovery's cargo
bay for repairs
MSNBC STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas, Dec. 21 - Space shuttle Discovery
snared the broken Hubble Space Telescope on Tuesday for a
long-overdue service call 380 miles above Earth.
SHUTTLE WAS launched Sunday after nine postponements, and
it took almost two days for Discovery to catch up with Hubble.
The orbital chase culminated at 7:34 p.m. ET, when French
astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy caught hold of the 43-foot,
25,000-pound telescope with Discovery's robot arm.
"We have Hubble grappled," Clervoy reported. Mission Control
congratulated him on a "first-class job."
rendezvous took place while the shuttle flew over Houston,
and from NASA's Johnson Space Center, Mission Control reported
that some people on the ground could actually see the glint
of the two spacecraft as they flew over.
was really a great show from our point of view," Mission Control
reported. "Ours might have been a little better," commander
Curt Brown answered wryly.
telescope was then drawn slowly into the shuttle cargo bay
and latched into a specially designed work platform. Then,
using a camera mounted on the robot arm, the crew methodically
checked out the telescope's exterior. Beginning Wednesday,
the astronauts are to conduct three spacewalks over three
days to get Hubble working again and refurbish it.
Hubble has been disabled for more than a month because of
failed gyroscopes, which are needed to keep the telescope
steady for aiming at stars, galaxies and other celestial objects.
collapse of the pointing system left the telescope a little
shaky and forced some changes in Discovery's approach. But
Brown said he and his crew had practiced for such a case and
were not worried.
NASA's Linda Ham and Keith Johnson outline the Hubble repair
tasks facing Discovery's crew. It is the third service call
to the $3 billion Hubble. In December 1993, astronauts fitted
the telescope with corrective optics because of a mirror with
a design flaw. The Hubble got its last tuneup in February
four dead gyroscopes with corroded wires, the Hubble has a
broken radio transmitter, an old-fashioned computer and data
recorder, batteries that are increasingly prone to overheating,
and peeling skin.
least some of the decline is due to the fact that the Hubble
has been orbiting Earth for almost 10 years and traveled 1.4
billion miles, more than 15 times the distance between the
Earth and the sun.
four designated spacewalkers will replace all those parts
and more with improved units, and hang stainless steel covers
on the outside of the telescope to protect it from the blistering
Four days of spacewalking had been planned, but one had to
be canceled because of the mission's late start, the result
of equipment problems and lousy weather.
said all the major objectives can be accomplished in three
outings, with any leftover jobs to be handled by future missions.
shuttle is scheduled to return to Earth on Monday. NASA wants
Discovery back with a few days to spare before New Year's
Eve to avoid any potential Y2K computer problems.
December 21, 1999
Update for 7:37 p.m.
With Hubble safely
attached to the shuttle's robot arm, Clervoy is now moving
Hubble into a proper position to place it into the cargo bay
and lock it down on a service platform.
Update for 7:34
Discovery has captured
"We have a good capture,
we have Hubble grappled," said Jean-Francois Clervoy.
The grapple took place
369 miles over the Gulf of Mexico.
Update for 7:31
The brakes are off
on the robot arm, allowing Clervoy to begin to move in on
the telescope to grab it.
Update for 7:28
Commander Brown now
has the shuttle in position for the capture of the telescope
using the robot arm. That means Discovery is now about 30
feet from Hubble and very slowly rotating at the same speed
The grapple is scheduled
for 7:41 p.m. EST, in about 15 minutes.
Update for 7:25
Kyle Herring says that the Ku-band antenna is now back in
communications mode but it is blocked from being able to send
TV signals to Earth, so it will be a few more hours before
we get our first look at Hubble during this mission.
Update for 7:23
Now 60 feet away.
Closing at a one-tenth of a foot per second rate.
Update for 7:17
have finished sending commands to Hubble to prepare it for
Commander Brown is
flying Discovery to match Hubble's slow rotation and make
it possible for Jean-Francois Clervoy to grab Hubble with
the shuttle's robot arm.
Discovery is 120 feet
away moving closer at two-tenths of a foot per second.
Update for 7:13
Discovery now inside
200 feet from Hubble.
Update for 7:03
Discovery now on the
R-bar and moving up to Hubble.
Now 600 feet away
and moving less than one foot per second toward Hubble and
This is the third
visit of a shuttle crew to Hubble since it was deployed by
another Discovery crew commanded by Loren Shriver in April
Update for 7 p.m.
Using a hand-held
lazer aimed at the telescope, the distance between Discovery
and Hubble agrees with the shuttle's radar.
The shuttle's radar
uses the same Ku-band antenna dish that live TV is transmitted
to Earth on. The Ku-band antenna can be used for communication
or navigation, but not both, which is why there is no pictures
from space yet on NASA TV.
Earlier, mission commentator
Kyle Herring said there is a chance that once the shuttle
gets close enough to Hubble and can't use its radar anymore,
that the switch to TV might be possible and some pictures
could be beamed back.
If not, the crew is
recording this rendezvous on tape and is scheduled to play
it back later this evening.
Discovery now approaching
the "R-bar," which is an imaginary line drawn from Hubble
down to the center of the Earth. Once the shuttle hits the
R-bar it will stop and move up the line to complete the rendezvous.
Update for 6:52
A fourth burn has
taken place and Discovery is now 1,780 feet away from Hubble,
closing at a rate of 2.2 feet per second.
Curt Brown, floating in the rear of the flight deck, will
now take over the final manual approach to the telescope.
Update for 6:35
A third midcourse
correction burn following the TI burn has taken place and
Discovery is now about one mile away from Hubble.
The astronauts report
they can see the observatory through the optics of one of
their navigation devices.
Discovery is moving
about 6 feet per second toward Hubble, which is reported ready
for Discovery's arrival.
Update for 6:10
Discovery is now about
four miles from Hubble.
Mission Control has
reported that a communications link between the ground and
Hubble through Discovery has been established.
Update for 5:30
Terminal Initiation burn using Discovery's reaction control
system jets has taken place without incident. The shuttle
is now on a course that will have Discovery and the Hubble
Space Telescope coming within 30 feet of each other in about
The two are separated
now by under 10 miles.
Update for 5:12
have been given a "go" for the TI burn. This small firing
of the shuttle's steering jets will send the shuttle on an
intercept course to Hubble.
The scheduled time
of the grapple is 7:41 p.m. but the exact time will depend
on the precise orientation of Hubble once Discovery arrives.
Hubble is in safe mode right now following the failure of
a gyroscope several weeks ago, so its exact orientation in
space relative to the shuttle and Earth is not known.
Curt Brown will have to look over the situation and manually
fly Discovery into the proper position next to Hubble so the
robot arm can be used to grab the telescope. This might require
the exact grapple time be adjusted.
Update for 4:45
All still proceeding
smoothly for the rendezvous with Hubble.
Update for 2:45
Discovery is slowly
approaching the Hubble Space Telescope and is now about 47
miles away from the observatory.
Curt Brown and pilot Scott Kelly have made a series of course
corrections today to close the gap between the shuttle and
the telescope. The final approach to Hubble is expected to
begin at 5:28 p.m. with the so-called Terminal Initiation,
or TI, burn.
Less than two hours
later Discovery will be within 30 feet of Hubble, and then
Jean-Francois Clervoy will operate the shuttle's 50-foot-long
robot arm to grab the telescope at 7:41 p.m. EST and move
it into position in the cargo bay and set it down in a cradle
at 8:01 p.m. EST.
Abour 39 minutes later
cameras on the robot arm will be aimed at the telescope and
the astronauts and Mission Control will inspect the exterior
of the observatory.
- Jim Banke
FloridaToday - Dec. 20, 1999
wait almost over
By Robyn Suriano
TODAY CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - At long last, shuttle Discovery
is in orbit today and racing toward the Hubble Space Telescope
on a mission to bring the observatory back to life.
spaceship lifted off Sunday night from Kennedy Space Center,
narrowly beating NASA's deadline for launching this year after
months of technical delays and a weekend spate of bad weather.
had to fly Sunday or wait until January to avoid have the
ship aloft at year's end and exposing it to potential Y2K
success puts Discover's seven astronauts on course to fix
Hubble's broken pointing system and return home Dec. 27, becoming
the first American crew to be in space over Christmas since
importantly to NASA, the mission restores the shuttles to
flight after a troubled year that has seen the agency suffer
through a grounding of the fleet because of wiring problems
and two vanished Mars probes.
have what I believe is a darn near perfect vehicle on orbit
right now, and things are going extremely well," said senior
shuttle manager Don McMonagle. He went on to say that "our
confidence in this (shuttle) team remains unshaken. The events
of the last five months have made us a stronger program."
today, Discovery's path around Earth will be refined with
every orbit to bring it closer to Hubble.
ship is to reach the telescope Tuesday, when the crew is to
capture it with the shuttle's robot arm and gently hoist it
into their cargo bay.
spacewalking astronauts are to make three excursions Wednesday,
Thursday and Friday to improve and repair the telescope, which
stopped all science work last month when its pointing system
addition to fixing that system, the astronauts are to install
an advanced computer brain and spread new insulation over
parts of the telescope.
is to be set free again on Christmas Day, giving NASA officials
what they call the best present possible. If all goes well,
Hubble could resume work in mid-January and make new discoveries
to deepen scientists' understanding of the universe.
are in a renaissance for astronomy," said Ed Weiler, NASA's
chief scientist at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"Over the last 10 years, we've taken great leaps in answering
basic questions about the universe, and more importantly,
in (finding out) the things we don't know. "I think Hubble
has done a real good job putting us in our place."
The orbiting telescope was designed to be worked on by spacewalking
astronauts, and a good thing, too. Unbeknownst to NASA, the
$3-billion observatory was launched in 1990 with a faulty
mirror that kept it from seeing clearly.
problem was corrected when Hubble's first crew of spacewalking
astronauts made repairs in 1993. Another group returned to
the telescope in 1997 to give Hubble a tune-up.
didn't plan on returning to the observatory again until 2000,
but officials decided to send Discovery this year after equipment
failures threatened to shut down the observatory's pointing
much-delayed mission did not get there in time, however, with
another breakdown causing Hubble to cease all science work
the repairs and two future tune-up missions, NASA officials
think Hubble will be at work through 2010 and continue to
produce more historic discoveries.
its greatest contributions to date, scientists count Hubble's
work in: The study of galaxies.
of Hubble's famous images is a dazzling shot of millions of
dots of light - almost each one representing a galaxy containing
billions of stars.
get the photo, Hubble stared deep into the universe for 10
straight days. It shows that galaxies formed very early after
the universe was formed in the Big Bang about 12 billion years
finding shocked scientists, who believed galaxies took a long
time to get going.
were quite surprised because what we saw were pretty well-formed
objects one billion years after the Big Bang, perhaps as little
as 800 million years after the Big Bang, which means the epic
of galaxy formation occurred much earlier than most models
predicted," Weiler said.
Scientists always believed black holes existed, but had no
proof. Hubble changed that in 1994, when it first took images
of matter swirling around the gaping center of a black hole.
was the first proof, the first really hard evidence for a
black hole, and since then Hubble has been detecting many
black holes," said Anne Kinney, a Hubble astronomer at agency
Hubble has taken many images of stars surrounded by the clouds
of dust and debris that are the breeding grounds for solar
pictures - believed to be planets in their early stages of
development - make astronomers think that the universe could
be teeming with worlds that might hold life.
real contribution is showing that the process of creating
solar systems is probably very, very common," Weiler said.
think Hubble could do more solid work, provided all goes well
during this mission.
think we have some wonderful astronomy to look ahead to, and
what we need to do now is get up there, and get the telescope
serviced so we can get back to work," Kinney said.
mission started flawlessly Sunday with a smooth countdown
and spectacular liftoff at 7:50 p.m.
appreciate your patience in hanging in there with us," launch
director Dave King told the crew just before liftoff. "We
hope you have a great mission to Hubble, and we'll see you
back here before the next millennium."
commander Curtis Brown Jr.: "We have one request - we'd like
you to send a note to Hubble to get ready, because we're on
trouble-free launch contrasted sharply with the agency's last
flight in July, when shuttle Columbia had a short circuit
during liftoff that took out two computers controlling the
ship's main engines.
ship made it to orbit safely, but could have been forced to
make an emergency landing in Africa if more computers had
a result, NASA grounded its spaceships in August after just
two flights until fleetwide wiring inspections could be carried
than 100 miles of wire were checked, and 50 exposed electrical
cables were repaired in Discovery. But the ship's problems
didn't end with the wiring.
of the shuttle's main engines had to be replaced when engineers
found a piece of a drill bit lodged inside, and new wiring
damage was found on the ship's external fuel tank.
troubles included a dented fuel line and concern that the
ship's main fuel lines may have been welded together incorrectly.
the technical issues were resolved by Friday, when NASA was
ready for its first launch attempt.
didn't cooperate, however, and thick clouds and rain thwarted
another attempt Saturday.
weeks of saying they would not launch beyond Saturday, NASA
decided to give itself one more chance and try launching Sunday.
result is a shortened mission - from 10 days to 8 - and loss
of a planned spacewalk that would have focused on more insulation
Space Center Shuttle Status Report, December 19, 1999, 8:30
STS-103 - 3rd Hubble Space Telescope Servicing
LOCATION: On orbit
TARGET KSC LAUNCH DATE/TIME: December 19 at 7:50 p.m. EST
TARGET LANDING DATE/TIME: December 27 at about 5:24 p.m. EST
LAUNCH WINDOW: 42 minutes
MISSION DURATION: 7 days, 21 hours, 34 minutes; with 3 EVAs
CREW: Brown, Kelly, Smith, Foale, Grunsfeld, Nicollier, Clervoy
ORBITAL ALTITUDE and INCLINATION: 317 nautical miles/28.45
in progress: Space Shuttle Discovery and a seven-member flight
crew lifted off from KSC's Launch Pad 39B on time at 7:50:00:069
p.m. today. The launch team worked no significant issues during
the launch countdown and weather conditions were excellent
at launch time. Discovery has embarked on its 27th space flight.
and crew will rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope on
Tuesday afternoon for a berthing of the spacecraft in the
orbiter's payload bay Tuesday night. Three space walks are
planned during this mission to accomplish planned Hubble servicing
efforts. Discovery returns to earth Monday, Dec. 27 at about
5:24 p.m. EST.
solid rocket booster recovery ships, Liberty Star and Freedom
Star, deployed from KSC on Wednesday, Dec. 15. They are expected
to arrive at Hangar AF with boosters in tow tomorrow at about
4:30 p.m. EST.
Update, December 19, 1999, 9:30, a.m. EST
orbiter will tank up today and we will attempt to launch tonight.
Launch time is 6:50 pm Central (7:50 Eastern). Weather is
looking good for tonight.
Space Center Shuttle Status Report, December 19,1999, 1:30
STS-103 - 3rd Hubble Space Telescope Servicing
LOCATION: Pad 39B
TARGET KSC LAUNCH DATE/TIME: December 19 at 7:50 p.m. EST
TARGET LANDING DATE/TIME: December 27 at about 5 p.m. EST
LAUNCH WINDOW: 42 minutes
MISSION DURATION: about 8 days
CREW: Brown, Kelly, Smith, Foale, Grunsfeld, Nicollier, Clervoy
ORBITAL ALTITUDE and INCLINATION: 317 nautical miles/28.45
in progress: Today, Shuttle managers decided to delay Discoverys
launch due to the increased threat of unfavorable weather.
Launch managers intended to begin operations to load the external
tank at 11 a.m. today, but with a 70 percent chance of weather
violation they delayed a go ahead decision to collect more
weather data. By noon, weather officials reported an 80 percent
probability that weather would prohibit tonights launch
attempt. The primary concerns are thick layered clouds and
managers are assessing the possibility of launching Discovery
on Sunday, Dec. 19. Current forecasts indicate a 60 percent
chance of favorable weather. Along with weather, managers
are reviewing the feasibility of supporting contingency landing
operations at Edward Air Force Base, CA, prior to the new
forecast calls for clouds to be scattered to broken at 3,000
feet, broken at 7,000 feet, and overcast at 12,000-22,000
feet; visibility at 7 miles; winds out of the north east at
12 knots gusting to 20 knots; temperature at 69 degrees F;
and rain showers in the KSC vicinity.