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  STS-125 / Atlantis: "The Final Visit to Hubble" [Flight Day Journal] (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   STS-125 / Atlantis: "The Final Visit to Hubble" [Flight Day Journal]
Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 1

STS-125 / Atlantis: The Final Visit to Hubble

Astronaut Scott Altman will command the final space shuttle mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, with Gregory C. Johnson as his pilot. Joining them aboard Altantis will be mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.

During the 11-day mission's five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014.

In addition, Atlantis will also carry a replacement Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit for Hubble. The STS-125 crew will install the unit on the telescope, removing the one that ceased working in September 2008, delaying the servicing mission until the replacement was ready.

Atlantis stands poised for launch on Pad 39A.

Do you have comments and/or questions about the STS-125 mission? Post to our mission viewing and commentary thread.

For earlier status updates about readying STS-125, see Atlantis to service Hubble.

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Flight Day 1

Atlantis 'tanked' and ready

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, valves were open at 4:41 a.m. EDT, beginning the flow of 500,000 gallons of chilled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into space shuttle Atlantis' external tank at Launch Pad 39A.

Fueling is now almost complete, with both tanks being topped off before entering a stable replenish mode.

The crew awoke at 5:30 a.m. and have undergone their final medical checks.

"Final check with the doctors, getting ready for breakfast. We launch today!!" 'tweeted' Mike Massimino on Twitter.

Liftoff remains on schedule for 2:01 p.m. EDT. The launch weather forecast remains 90 percent favorable.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 1

Astronauts aboard

The crew of STS-125 departed their crew quarters at 10:16 a.m. EDT and boarded the AstroVan for a short journey to Pad 39A, where they began strapping into their seats on space shuttle Atlantis.

The countdown is continuing smoothly and liftoff remains on schedule for 2:01 p.m. EDT.

STS-125 astronauts pause and wave before boarding the AstroVan for a ride to space shuttle Atlantis on Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. At right, an IMAX 3D camera captures their departure.

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Flight Day 1

Strapped, sealed and almost delivered

The STS-125 astronauts are all on-board space shuttle Atlantis, their communications checks are complete, and the hatch to the orbiter has been sealed.

The countdown clock will hold at the T-20 minute mark beginning at 12:51 p.m. EDT. This built-in hold lasts 10 minutes.

Weather is favorable with a 90 percent chance of good conditions at the launch time, 2:01 p.m.

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Flight Day 1

T-9 minutes and counting

The countdown has exited its final of seven built-in holds, a 40 minute pause at the T-9 minute mark, which ended with a "go" for launch.

As the clock now ticks down to liftoff, the orbiter access arm and gaseous oxygen vent "beanie cap" at Pad 39A will be retracted from the shuttle before the orbiter transfers from ground to internal power.

Atlantis' launch to the Hubble Telescope is set for 2:01:56 p.m. EDT.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 1

Atlantis away!

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off with the STS-125 crew at 2:01:56 p.m. EDT on a fifth and final mission to the service the Hubble Telescope!

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 1

Hubble-bound

Space shuttle Atlantis with its seven-member STS-125 crew launched at 2:01:56 p.m. EDT Monday, May 11, from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

Now safe in orbit, the orbiter experienced two minor glitches during ascent: one of four redundant systems that provide power to Atlantis' flight control aerosurfaces failed and a faulty sensor on one of the main engines rang an alarm inside the cockpit.


Photo credit: NASA TV

Atlantis' 11-day mission will include five spacewalks to refurbish Hubble with science instruments designed to improve the telescope's discovery capabilities by up to 70 times while extending its lifetime through at least 2014.

Shortly before liftoff, Commander Scott Altman thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible.

All that I can really think is that at last our launch has come along. It has been a long time in coming. I know that it took the work of the entire team across our entire agency to bring us to this point. Looking back, it has been 50 years since President Kennedy challenged us to do the 'other things, not because it was easy, but because it was hard'. Getting to this point has been challenging, but... the whole team, everyone has pulled together, we're taking a little piece of all of us into space and at this point all I have left to say is let's launch Atlantis!
Altman is joined on STS-125 by pilot Greg C. Johnson and mission specialists Megan McArthur, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Drew Feustel and Michael Good.

McArthur will serve as the flight engineer and lead for robotic arm operations while the remaining mission specialists pair up for the hands-on spacewalk work after Hubble is captured and secured in the payload bay.

Altman, Grunsfeld and Massimino are space shuttle and Hubble mission veterans. Johnson, Feustel and Good are first-time space fliers.

The STS-125 mission is the 126th shuttle flight, the 30th for Atlantis and the second of five planned in 2009. Hubble was delivered to space on April 24, 1990, on the STS-31 mission. STS-125 is referred to as Servicing Mission 4, although it is technically the fifth servicing flight to the telescope.

This flight is the first time in seven years that astronauts are returning to Hubble. The mission has been delayed since September 2008, when a control unit failed on the telescope causing the servicing and upgrade plan to be revised.

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Flight Day 1

Armed inspections begin

Before retiring for the evening, the crew of STS-125 stretched their arm -- Atlantis' remote manipulator, or robotic arm -- to inspect their payload bay and crew cabin's exterior.

The arm-assisted survey is the just the beginning of the inspections on tap for Flight Day 2 -- their first full day in space -- when the astronauts will scan their thermal protection system, or heat shield, for any debris damage that may have happened during their ascent.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 2

Flight Day Two

The STS-125 crew began their first full day in space at 4:01 a.m. CDT Tuesday with Mission Control playing "Kryptonite" by the band 3 Doors Down as a wake-up call dedicated to pilot Greg C. "Ray Jay" Johnson.

As they continue toward a Wednesday rendezvous with the Hubble Telescope, the astronauts will use the shuttle's robotic arm today to inspect Atlantis' outer surfaces and in particular, its tiled underbelly.

The heat shield survey will be conducted using the orbiter's boom, an extension to the arm that includes sensors that can detect any significant damage that may have occurred during the launch and climb to orbit. Imagery experts at Mission Control in Houston will evaluate that data to determine the health of the thermal protection system.

The crew will also deploy the Flight Support System, or FSS, at the back end of the shuttle's payload bay in preparation for berthing the Hubble Telescope.

The FSS serves as a high-tech "lazy Susan" that can be rotated and tilted to present the desired part of the telescope forward for easy access by spacewalkers, and to offer the best viewing angles for cameras and crew members inside Atlantis. It also provides all the electrical and mechanical interfaces between the shuttle and Hubble.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 2

Minor damage on Earth, and in space

The launch of space shuttle Atlantis on Monday resulted in minor damage to both the pad from which the shuttle departed Earth and the orbiter itself.

A 25-square-foot section of heat-resistant "Fondue Fyre" came off the flame deflector below Pad 39A and pneumatics lines were damaged by the force of Atlantis' exhaust. Repairs are not expected to impact the next shuttle mission's schedule.

Meanwhile in orbit, astronauts aboard Atlantis have been inspecting their own heat shield and have found some "minor" tile damage to their starboard wing near the chine area, the tiles forward of the wing's leading edge reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) panels. Capcom Daniel Burbank advised the STS-125 crew of the initial assessment.

In the chine area there is a stretch of about 21 inches, four or five tiles that show some nick damage. It probably was debris related. The ascent imagery folks have gone back and looked at the imagery and there was an event at about 104 seconds or so that was in that area that might correspond to what we saw there.

At this point, the preliminary assessment is it doesn't look very serious, those tiles are pretty thick, the nicks looks to be pretty small.

The astronauts were advised that it was too early to say if a further focused inspection of that area would be necessary, though flight controllers did note sensors in the starboard wing that also showed evidence of an impact at about the same time during the launch.

If a focused inspection is deemed necessary, it will be scheduled for Flight Day 5, before the first of the mission's five spacewalks begins.


Photo credit: NASA

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Flight Day 2

A tweet from above... way above!

Per NASA's own Twitter feed:

NASA first: Astronaut Mike Massimino tweets from space - he just sent a note to Johnson Space Center which posted it on his twitter @astro_mike

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Flight Day 2

Cosmic eye closed on Hubble

To protect its ultra-sensitive optics, the Hubble Space Telescope's aperture door has been closed by its ground controllers in preparation for the rendezvous with space shuttle Atlantis on Wednesday.

The 10-foot door, which covers the opening through which light enters the telescope, will remain closed for the next week. On Flight Day 9, it will be commanded to re-open, just before Atlantis' crew releases the upgraded Hubble back into orbit.

The aperture door was confirmed as closed at 5:24 p.m. CDT.


Hubble as photographed in 2002 by the STS-109 crew. Photo credit: NASA

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Flight Day 2

"Good news" ends a good day in space

Capcom Alan Poindexter radioed STS-125 commander Scott Altman Tuesday evening to share "good news" about the chipped tiles found earlier today on Atlantis' right wing.
"Turns out that a focused inspection of that area on the starboard chine is not going to be required," reported Poindexter.

The news was well received in orbit.

"Alright! You've got some happy EVA campers on that!" replied Altman.

Mission control will continue to study the imagery collected by the crew before ruling out focused inspections for other areas on the orbiter's heat shield.

The seven Atlantis astronauts were scheduled to begin an eight-hour sleep shift at 8:01 p.m. CDT, giving them a chance to rest before rendezvousing with and capturing the Hubble Space Telescope on Wednesday. Before heading to bed though, the crew shared video of mission specialist Mike Massimino interviewing each of them as they worked on the shuttle.

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Flight Day 3

Flight Day Three

The STS-125 crew is awake aboard Atlantis, having started their day at 4:01 a.m. CDT with the song "Upside Down" by Jack Johnson.

The wake-up call was dedicated to Megan McArthur, who later today will use the shuttle's robotic arm to capture the Hubble Telescope and the lower it into Atlantis' payload bay to position it for servicing.

As the crew slept, Hubble's ground controllers prepared the telescope for the astronauts' arrival, retracting the two high gain antennas and readying to position the observatory's solar arrays to avoid the path of the shuttle's thrusters.

Atlantis is scheduled to arrive within 35 feet of Hubble at 11:54 a.m.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 3

Views from the past

A television camera that will assist with today's upcoming berthing of the Hubble Space Telescope was first flown 28 years ago, according to NASA commentator Kyle Herring.
Mounted on that turn table -- the rotating Flight Support System -- is a berthing camera. That camera basically provides some situational awareness, particularly to Megan McArthur who will be operating the shuttle's robotic arm.

One historical point of interest about this camera, it actually is the identical camera that flew up on the flight deck of Columbia for STS-1, on the very first shuttle flight.

It provided [on STS-1] in-cabin color views. That camera is now mounted on the Flight Support System to provide a monochromatic, or black and white view up on the flight deck on a closed circuit television, so that Megan McArthur can position the Hubble properly.

Using a different optical system, STS-125 commander Scott Altman also reported the first sight of another item of historical interest (and his crew's near-future): the Hubble Space Telescope.
The star tracker is not the only thing that can see a star on our horizon. Looking out the COAS [crewman optical alignment sight], we see that star approaching from the east.
The sighting, which came at a distance of 268,000 feet at 8:16 a.m. CDT, marked the first time Hubble has been seen by astronauts in space since March 2002.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 3

Tally Ho-bble

The astronauts aboard space shuttle Atlantis are in view of the Hubble Space Telescope as they continue toward their rendezvous.
"We have a solid 'tally-ho' on Hubble!" announced STS-125 commander Scott Altman.
Altman performed the last of a series of rendezvous burns, the 12 second Terminal Initiation burn, at 9:41 a.m. CDT, positioning Atlantis in the same altitude as Hubble.

Four mid-course correction burns were also scheduled, though after analyzing Atlantis' trajectory, only three were needed and performed.

Mission specialist Megan McArthur has moved the shuttle's robotic arm to be ready to grapple Hubble in a maneuver targeted for just before noon.

However, a malfunctioning communications link between Atlantis and Hubble may delay the capture. The crew can still send commands to the telescope, but will need to rely on a relayed confirmation that those commands were executed, passing from Hubble to the ground and back to the shuttle.

To save some time, Mission Control gave Altman the go ahead to manually adjust Atlantis' angle to match Hubble's orientation, rather than commanding the telescope to align with the orbiter for grapple.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 3

Hubble in hand!

Using space shuttle Atlantis' robotic arm, STS-125 mission specialist Megan McArthur grappled the Hubble Space Telescope at 12:14 p.m. CDT as both the orbiter and observatory flew 350 miles above western Australia.
"Houston, Atlantis, Hubble has arrived on-board Atlantis with the arm!" radioed commander Scott Altman.
McArthur will next use the robotic arm to lower Hubble into Atlantis' payload bay, where it will be berthed atop the Flight Support System.

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Flight Day 3

Unbelievably beautiful sight

I am just looking out the window here and its an unbelievably beautiful sight. Amazingly, the exterior of Hubble, an old man of 19 years in space, still looks in fantastic shape.

-- STS-125 mission specialist John Grunsfeld, who previously visited Hubble on flights in 1999 (STS-103) and 2002 (STS-109).


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 3

Hubble in the bay

The Hubble Space Telescope was latched atop the Flight Support System (FSS) in space shuttle Atlantis' payload bay at 1:12 p.m. CDT. STS-125 mission specialist Megan McArthur used the orbiter's robotic arm to lower the observatory and secure it on the rotating platform.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 3

Scoping out the 'scope

With the Hubble Space Telescope safely secured atop the rotating Flight Support System in Atlantis' payload bay, the STS-125 astronauts used cameras inside the crew cabin and at the end of the shuttle's robotic arm to survey the exterior condition of the 19 year old observatory.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 3

Close encounter of the Chinese kind

A 10 centimeter fragment from a Chinese satellite, which was destroyed during an anti-satellite missile test in 2002, crossed orbits with space shuttle Atlantis at 6:28 p.m. CDT.
"We are tracking a conjunction. No action required, we're not going to take any action. It is in the yellow and the time of closest approach is two days, five hours and 27 minutes. We'll continue to track it," advised capcom Alan Poindexter.

"Appreciate the heads-up. That sounds like it is a little bit before sleep. I know you'll let us know as things go on but appreciate the heads-up," replied STS-125 commander Scott Altman.

At its closest approach, the debris passed 2.8 kilometers ahead and 0.15 kilometers below the shuttle.

Back on Earth, mission managers cleared Atlantis' thermal protection system from ascent damage, negating any need for further focused inspections. The earlier heat shield survey conducted on Flight Day 2 missed 16 tiles near the orbiter's nose however, so flight controllers were working on a plan for the astronauts to use the shuttle's robotic arm to image that area on Friday.

Sensors did report a suspected impact by orbital debris to a starboard RCC panel (11R), but the force registered by that hit was considered too weak to cause any concern. The area will be reinspected during a standard survey of the orbiter's heat shield at the end of the mission, after the Hubble Space Telescope has been serviced and redeployed.

A fine particulate was also noted covering the insulation blankets on the Wide Field Camera 3's carrier box in Atlantis' payload bay. The crew was asked to take photographs of the unknown material, but otherwise stay clear of it during Thursday's spacewalk, the first of five for the mission.

The astronauts were scheduled to retire for the evening at 7:31 p.m. As is quickly becoming a tradition for this crew, mission specialist Mike Massimino ended the day by recording interviews with his fellow astronauts.

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Flight Day 4

Flight Day Four

STS-125 mission specialist Drew Feustel began his and his fellow astronauts fourth day aboard space shuttle Atlantis at 3:41 a.m. CDT with the song "Stick Shifts and Safety Belts" by Cake played for the soon-to-be-spacewalker by Mission Control.

Feustel and John Grunsfeld will perform today the first of the flight's five spacewalks to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

The two are slated to remove the observatory's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), the longest serving camera aboard Hubble, and replace it with the new "panchromatic" Wide Field Camera 3, which will allow Hubble to capture a wide range of images from ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths.

They will also install a new Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit, replacing the failed data processing computer that delayed Atlantis' launch last October. In addition, the spacewalkers will add a "soft capture" mechanism to Hubble, to enable a future spacecraft to latch onto the observatory, assisting it in its de-orbit at the end of its life.

Their final scheduled task will be to install three latch-over-center kits that will facilitate opening and closing Hubble's doors during the third spacewalk.

Today's spacewalk, which is scheduled to begin at 7:16 a.m., is set to last six and a half hours.


Photo credit: NASA

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Flight Day 4

First spacewalk starts

The first spacewalk of the STS-125 mission began at 7:52 a.m. CDT, 37 minutes later than originally scheduled, as astronauts John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel took their spacesuits to internal power.
"You guys look great. Drew, we can see the reflection of the Earth in your visor," radioed intervehicular officer, or the spacewalk coordinator, Mike Massimino from inside Atlantis.

"Fan-tastic," replied Feustel.

Feustel, wearing a solid white (no stripes) suit, will begin by making his way to the Wide Field 3 scientific instrument protective enclosure, in which the telescope's new equipment was launched, and release some latches.

Meanwhile Grunsfeld, wearing a suit with solid red stripes, will set up the foot restraint that Feustel will use on the shuttle's robotic arm and install the berthing and positioning system post, which will protect the telescope's solar arrays from vibration while they are working. He will also install a fixture in the payload bay that will be used to temporarily hold equipment after it is removed.

Feustel will then install a handle on the foot restraint, before climbing on. Inside the station, Megan McArthur will then maneuver him into position for the removal of the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.

Grunsfeld will take advantage of the time it takes Feustel to get into place by installing a protective cover on Hubble's low gain antenna. Once that is done, he will join Feustel at the WFPC2.

Today's spacewalk is the sixth for Grunsfeld and the first for Feustel.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 4

WFPC2 out, WFC3 in

Having completed their tools set-up, spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel began their first major task: removing the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and replacing it with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

To remove the WFPC2, Feustel installed a handle and then set about releasing a blindÔÇÉmate connector, a grounding strap and a latch. The bolt securing the latch wouldn't come loose, so Grunsfeld retrieved a torque limiter extension for Feustel to be able to apply more pressure, which also failed to loosen the connector.

Ultimately, Feustel was able to free the latch using a short adjustable ratchet, also retrieved by Grunsfeld.

"I think I got it, it turned, it definitely turned. And it's turning easily now," reported Feustel.
Feustel then slid WFPC2 on its guide rails out of Hubble for the first time since its installation in 1993, while Grunsfeld monitored the camera's clearance as it moved out of the telescope. WFPC2 was then temporarily stored on the fixture Grunsfeld earlier deployed in the payload bay.

Photo credit: NASA TV
For WFC3, Feustel was again doing the "heavy lifting" with the help of the shuttle's robotic arm. He and Grunsfeld installed a handle on the new "panchromatic" camera where it was stowed inside the Wide Field Scientific Instrument Protective Enclosure, and then Feustel carefully lifted it out.

Feustel, riding the robotic arm, carried the new camera to the former location of WFPC2 and slid WFC3 into place. He then secured it with a latch and strap.

Feustel next removed the handle that he installed earlier on WFC3 and handed it off to Grunsfeld for storage.


Photo credit: NASA TV
The Space Telescope Operations Control Center confirmed WFC3 was receiving power and had passed its "aliveness" test.
"That's awesome news," said Mike Massimino from inside Atlantis. "These guys did a great job and we appreciate all the great support we got from the ground getting Wide Field in to unlock the secrets of the universe."

"More of the secrets," added Grunsfeld.

With the new camera installed, the two worked to stow WFPC2 in the enclosure from where WFC3 was removed for its return trip to Earth.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 4

Out with the old, in with the new

The spacewalkers' next turned their attention to the replacement of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit (SIC&DH), which failure caused the STS-125 mission to be postponed by six months. The computer sends commands to Hubble's instruments and formats the data they collect for transmission to the ground.

Grunsfeld retrieved the new SIC&DH from the Multi-Use Lightweight Equipment Carrier (MULE) in Atlantis' payload bay by releasing eight bolts, while Feustel worked to remove ten bolts from the Bay 10 door on the telescope, releasing the old computer at 12:12 p.m. CDT.

Feustel, with the old computer in hand, rode the shuttle's robotic arm down to Grunsfeld at the carrier, where the two swapped units. Feustel then carried the new unit back the telescope to install it, while Grunsfeld stored the old one for its return to the ground.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 4

Mechanism mated, latch attached

With their two major tasks successfully completed, the spacewalkers worked on final "get ahead" activities before returning inside Atlantis.

As Feustel was wrapping up the work on the SIC&DH replacement, Grunsfeld installed a soft capture mechanism at the base of Hubble enable future spacecraft to attach to the telescope.

The mechanism itself was attached to the flight support system, the rotating platform that connects Hubble to the shuttle. To install the capture device, Grunsfeld needed only to tighten a single bolt, which drove latches to attach it to the telescope while releasing it from the support system.

With that done, Feustel worked to install three "latch-over-center" kits to allow for faster access to Hubble's doors during the mission's third spacewalk. Meanwhile, Grunsfeld inspected and lubed bolts on other of the telescope's doors.

Ultimately, only two of the latch kits were installed. The remaining one proved troublesome, which was then further complicated by the need for a latch repair.

With their work done, the spacewalkers were told by Mission Control to clean up their tools and head back to the airlock.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 4

First spacewalk ends

The first of five STS-125 spacewalks to service the Hubble Space Telescope ended at 3:12 p.m. CDT -- seven hours and 20 minutes after it began -- as space shuttle Atlantis' airlock began repressurizing to allow spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel back inside the orbiter's crew cabin.
"Well, we got to Hubble and gave Hubble a hug, but in traditional Hubble fashion, Hubble through us a few curves. I think it is really a testament to the whole team on-board here, on-board Atlantis, and of course on the ground... that we were able to overcome them, that we have a Wide Field Camera 3 in the telescope to help unlock the secrets of the universe and a new scientific instrument command and data handling [unit]. Thanks to everybody for all the hard work," said Grunsfeld as the spacewalk came to a close.

"I had a great time," added Feustel, "and I am glad we got the work done.

Thursday's spacewalk was Feustel's first and the sixth for Grunsfeld, who now has a career EVA total of 44 hours and 52 minutes, ranking him as the eighth most experienced spacewalker in the world.

This was the 19th spacewalk to work on the telescope. Spacewalkers have devoted a total of 136 hours and 30 minutes working on Hubble since it was launched 19 years ago in April 1990.

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Flight Day 4

Early to bed, early to rise

Their first spacewalk a success, the STS-125 crew aboard Atlantis retired for the day at 7:31 p.m. CDT.

They will be woken at 3:31 a.m. Friday to begin preparations for the second spacewalk of the mission, scheduled to begin at 7:16 a.m.

Before going to sleep, the astronauts reported a burning smell on the middeck, which was traced to one of the EVA battery chargers. Mission Control advised that particular charger be stowed for the rest of the mission.

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Flight Day 5

Flight Day Five

The STS-125 astronauts awoke today to the song "God of Wonders" written by Steve Hindalong and Marc Byrd, played for Mike Good.
"Good morning Houston, thanks for lifting us up even higher with that song this morning."

We're looking forward to going outside and working on Hubble," radioed Good.

Good and Mike Massmino will perform today's spacewalk, the second of five for the mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The spacewalkers are slated to replace three rate sensor units and three of the telescope's batteries.

Photo credit: NASA
As Good and Massimino prepared to go outside, mission specialist Megan McArthur used the camera at the end of Altantis's robotic arm to gather imagery of about 40 tiles near the orbiter's nose that were inadvertently missed during Tuesday's heat shield survey. The survey was only for completeness; there were no concerns about those tiles.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Second spacewalk starts

Mike "Mass" Massimino and Mike "Bueno" Good began today's spacewalk, the second for the STS-125 mission, at 7:49 a.m. CDT as their spacesuits began drawing from internal battery power.

Massimino, making his third spacewalk, is identified by the horizontal red stripes on his spacesuit.

This is Good's first time outside in space. His spacesuit has diagonal "barber pole" red stripes.

"Mike Good, welcome to the wonderful world of working in a vacuum," said John Grunsfeld, who is serving today as one of the spacewalk coordinators from inside Atlantis.
Upon exiting the airlock, Massimino's radio was silent. Neither Good nor the other astronauts inside Atlantis could hear him. The problem however, was quickly fixed.
"That was scary," said Good.

"A little bit," replied Massimino.

The two "Mikes" will spend the bulk of their six and a half hour EVA replacing three rate sensor units. Each unit is part of a gyro assembly that senses Hubble's motion and provides rate data for the telescope.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Springy doors tethered open

As his first activity of the spacewalk, Massimino opened a protective enclosure in Atlantis' payload bay from which Good, riding the shuttle's robotic arm, retrieved the first replacement rate sensor unit and carried it to the telescope.

Massimino also picked up a gripper tool, which Good would use later to maneuver the units into place.

At the telescope, Good retracted two fixed head star tracker seals, allowing the doors on the telescope bay to open, but they didn't want to stay open.

"Seems like it wants to come back in though. Look at how much it wants to spring in," reported Good. "If I let go of the door, it really springs in."
After discussing the situation with the ground, a decision was made to tether the doors open.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Installing 'Mass' to swap sensors

To remove the first of the old rate sensor units, Massimino positioned himself fully inside the telescope.
"And Mass, if you look carefully, there's a little engraving that says 'Story was here' somewhere," joked John Grunsfeld from inside Atlantis', referring to Story Musgrave, who served as lead spacewalker on the first Hubble servicing mission and who helped developed the technique of fitting up inside the aft shroud of the telescope.

"Ahh, you're not going to fool me!" replied Massimino.

Standing in Story's footsteps, Massimino disconnected two electrical connectors from the old rate sensor unit.

Good, positioned outside the telescope on the shuttle's robotic arm, removed three bolts to complete disconnecting the unit.

The spacewalkers then used same connectors and bolts to tighten the replacement unit, which was confirmed as installed at 9:41 a.m. CDT. An "aliveness" test by ground controllers verified the new unit was receiving power.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Swapping sensors

The spacewalkers were to repeat the same process to replace the remaining two rate sensor units, however when trying to install the second RSU, it refused to seat properly.

After several tries to position it correctly, including having Massimino try to manually seat it rather than having Good use the gripper tool specifically designed for that purpose, flight controllers advised the astronauts to retrieve the RSU intended for the third replacement and try it in the second place's spot.

"I thought we really had it aligned that time, too," said Massimino, after his manual attempt.

"You guys are doing a great effort," replied Grunsfeld, who in 1999 had performed a similar task on an earlier earlier servicing mission.

"I've felt like it was aligned a couple of times but it just doesn't want to go," added Good.

"We would echo John's words there, great effort," radioed capcom Dan Burbank from Mission Control. "I know it's kind of frustrating. We've got lots of folks working down here on the ground to do our best to help you but keep up the good work and hopefully we'll get lucky in just a bit."

And lucky they were; the unit retrieved by Good was easily seated.
"That feels solid," reported Good, adding a few minutes later," That definitely got it."
The second RSU replaced, ground controllers confirmed that it too was receiving power.

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Remember this day

Attempting the third replacement with the same unit that wouldn't fit in the second slot, Good ran into the same problems.
"It does feel a little wobbly like the other one," reported Good as he tried to secure one of the bolts. "No joy."

"It just doesn't want to seat on there," he added a few minutes later.

Grunsfeld, addressing flight controllers, said he advised against forcing the gyroscope-controlled device in.

"I am little uncomfortable trying to make an inertial platform out of something that may not be installed flat, even if we get one of the bolts down," he said.

Agreeing with Grunsfeld's recommendation, Mission Control directed the astronauts to retrieve a back-up unit, a refurbished RSU that while functional, was of an older design than the primary devices.

The back-up unit installed successfully, marking the completion of all three rate sensor unit replacements at four hours, 50 minutes into the spacewalk.

"My friend Leonidas has a couple of words for you guys that [are] appropriate right now," said commander Scott Altman, citing a character from the 2007 film adaptation of the graphic novel 300. "Remember this day men, for it will be yours for all time."

Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Recharging before replacing batteries

Before closing the doors on their rate sensor unit worksite, Massimino and Good completed a get-ahead task for Saturday's spacewalk, installing a power input element harness for the advanced camera for survey (ACS).

Their next activity, replacing half of Hubble's batteries, was allotted an hour and 35 minutes to complete. With the spacewalkers running about two hours behind in their time line, flight controllers advised the astronauts that their limiting consumable was Massimino's oxygen.

To address that, Massimino returned to the airlock to recharge his air supply, a proces that only took a few minutes.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Batteries included

As their last task for this spacewalk, Massimino and Good worked to replace the first of Hubble's two battery modules.

Hubble has a total of six nickel-hydrogen batteries contained within two modules of three batteries each. Each module weighs 460 pounds and is 36 inches long by 32 inches wide by 11 inches tall.

Though the original batteries lasted 18 years -- 13 years longer than their design life -- the new batteries are superior in several ways. They are made using a "wet slurry", which produces batteries that are physically stronger and better performing than the "dry sinter" models they are replacing.

Each new battery also has the added safety feature of an isolation switch that electrically dead-faces each connector. This created a safer environment for the astronauts installing the battery modules.

Good began the replacement by disconnecting the old battery module from Hubble's Bay 2 by disengaging six electrical connectors and unscrewing 14 bolts. As he was doing that, Massimino got the new module from its carrier by releasing the 12 bolts that held it in place.

The two spacewalkers then swapped batteries at the carrier. Good, riding the shuttle's robotic arm, returned to Bay 2 to install the new battery as Massimino stowed the old one for its return with Atlantis.

Hubble's second battery module is scheduled to be replaced during the mission's fifth and final spacewalk.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Second spacewalk ends

The second of five STS-125 spacewalks came to a close at 3:45 p.m. CDT, seven hours and 56 minutes after it began.

Mike Massimino and Mike Good completed all the tasks assigned to them, replacing the Hubble Space Telescope's six gyroscopes as well as half of the telescope's six batteries.

"Those gyros were crucial and Hubble's batteries were getting old -- batteries are included on this flight. You did a fantastic job," radioed John Grunsfeld just before the spacewalk ended.
Massimino and Good also accomplished a get-ahead for Saturday's spacewalk, installing a harness for the advanced camera for survey.

This was Good's first spacewalk and the third for Massimino, bringing his career EVA total to 22 hours and 42 minutes.

"It was really great going out there for the first time. A big thanks to everybody on the ground," said Good.

"It was a pleasure going out with you, an honor, on your first EVA. You did a great job," Massimino replied.

It was the 20th spacewalk dedicated to the Hubble Space Telescope. Spacewalkers have devoted 144 hours and 26 minutes to working on the observatory since it was launched in April 1990.

Today's EVA was the eighth longest in history, surpassing outings by astronauts on STS-96 and International Space Station Expedition 14, and pushing a spacewalk made during the first Hubble repair mission in 1993 out of the top 10.


Photo credit: NASA TV

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Flight Day 5

Late to bed, late to rise

Given their record-setting long-duration spacewalk, the STS-125 crew were given an extra hour before their scheduled sleep period.

As a result, their mission schedule will be offset by an hour, at least through the end of their fifth spacewalk on Monday.

On Friday, the primary A controller for space shuttle Atlantis' flash evaporator system' shut down. The crew initially swapped to the 'B' side of the system, which worked fine. Signature readings indicated that the issue may have been a result of ice at its core. The crew performed a core flush later in the day that appeared to clear the ice and resolve the problem.

The flash evaporators, located in the aft fuselage, are used to reject heat loads from the orbiter's cooling loops during ascent and reentry.

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Flight Day 6

Flight Day Six

The STS-125 crew on-board space shuttle Atlantis began their sixth day in space to "Hotel Cepollina", as performed by Fuzzbox Piranha for spacewalker John Grunsfeld.
"With all the curves that Hubble has been throwing us, there is no question that we are all living in Hotel Cepollina," radioed Grunsfeld, referring to the parody of "Hotel California" by the Eagles.
Grunsfeld and fellow mission specialist Drew Feustel are scheduled to embark today on the mission's third of five spacewalks to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

The two spacewalkers will focus on the removal of the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) -- the so-called "contact lens" that originally repaired Hubble's vision -- as well as the installation of the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys.


Photo credit: NASA

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Flight Day 6

Third spacewalk starts

The third spacewalk of the STS-125 mission began at 8:35 a.m. CDT, as astronauts John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel took their spacesuits to internal power.

Grunsfeld, wearing a spacesuit with solid red stripes, was first to exit the airlock.

"It is dark outside," said Grunsfeld, noting they were still within Earth's shadow.
Grunsfeld's first task will be to prepare a temporary stowage fixture in Atlantis' payload bay, while Feustel works to open the doors on the Hubble Telescope where he and Grunsfeld will install the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph.

Photo credit: NASA TV
Continued on page two...


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