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Astronaut training for all Hubble missions is split between the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland and the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. GSFC is responsible for all flight hardware and is home to the largest clean room in the U.S. In the clean room astronauts get hands-on experience with the flight hardware they will be using during the mission. The SM4 crew participated in six such training activities, known as crew fams, since they were assigned to this historic flight. JSC is home to the Neutral Bouyancy Lab (NBL) and other astronaut training facilities. For the SM4 mission the astronauts trained 99 times in the NBL for periods of six hours each.

Just as the astronauts must practice repeatedly for the mission, so too must the ground support personnel. Johnson Space Center (JSC), lead center for space shuttle on-orbit operations, and Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), lead center for HST (Hubble Space Telescope) operations also practiced via 13 separate Joint Integrated Systems (JIS) sessions for this mission.

Clean Room at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD.

The Clean Room at Goddard Space Flight Center is a hub of activity as it prepares the Hubble's payload for transfer to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Anyone entering the clean room is required to put on a "Bunny Suit". Once the gear is loaded into the various carriers and packaged for transport, it's last stop is the Building 29 loading dock to await the special trucks that will transport the cargo to KSC.

Neutral Bouyancy Lab (NBL) at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.

The Neutral Bouyancy Lab (NBL) is a large pool that is 40 feet deep (20 feet underground and 20 feet aboveground), 202 ft. long, and 102 ft. wide containing 6.2 million gallons of water. Its primary purpose is to train astronauts for EVA by simulating micro-gravity conditions. SM4 astronauts practice on a Hubble model in this underwater environment. It helps them learn how to position their bodies and how to maneuver themselves during an EVA, or spacewalk.. + Read More

Space Telescope Operations Control Center (STOCC)

The Hubble Space Telescope is kept under a watchful eye by a dedicated team of professionals at NASA GSFC's Space Telescope Operations Control Center, or STOCC. This group is called the Flight Operations Team (FOT) and is comprised of Hubble engineers and managers who work seven days a week, 365 days a year, constantly monitoring the telescope's operations. + Read More