Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hubble Telescope Repair Mission

As a resident of Kansas, I've come to enjoy our big skies and the marvelous view of the stars at night. Seeing streaking stars with the naked eye is a joy, but far more amazing is viewing the incredible images of the Hubble Telescope.

For 19 years, Hubble has ushered us into the golden age of astronomy. Now, it's about to get a huge overhaul so it can remain in service for another five years--or about 8000,000,000 miles. Today NASA is sending up a crew to perform Hubble maintenance.

The Telegraph says this will be NASA's most dangerous mission:
Among the greatest hazards facing Atlantis is the intense amount of space junk - such as broken satellites and dead rockets - that is cluttering the area where the shuttle will rendezvous with Hubble...

Astronaut John Grunsfeld likens the intricacy of the tasks he and his colleagues will perform to 'performing brain surgery in space.'

They will face major hurdles, such as unscrewing dozens of minute screws while wearing gloves five layers thick and removing razor-sharp circuit boards capable of piercing the $10 million spacesuits that keep them alive in the vacuum of space.

'I would consider this the climbing Mount Everest of spacewalking missions,' said Mr Grunsfeld, 51.

'The big unknowns are where we’re pushing the envelope further than its been done before in spaceflight…we’re trying some techniques that haven’t been done before.

'In training it’s been going very well…the only hesitation I have is that Hubble has a way of surprising us.'

What surprises me is that this story isn't getting a whole of press. But if something goes wrong...

Pray for the mission's success!

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