Hubble Payload Installation Under Way

By Frank Morring, Jr.

Workers at Kennedy Space Center started loading new instruments, gyros batteries and other hardware for the Hubble Space Telescope into the space shuttle Atlantis April 22, as the preliminary flight readiness review cleared the final servicing mission to the orbiting observatory for a May 12 liftoff.

Payload installation started at 7 a.m. EDT, and launch-preparation crews were working no issues that might delay the launch, according to a KSC spokesperson. Launch is tentatively set for 1:31 p.m. EDT May 12, although managers are discussing moving the date forward by one day. The final launch time will be confirmed at an executive-level flight readiness review on April 30.

The mission - delayed from last year when a data-handling computer on the telescope failed and replacement hardware had to be flight-qualified - will deliver two new instruments to the Hubble. The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph will allow astronomers to begin mapping the "cosmic web" of structure in the universe shaped by so-called dark matter, while the Wide Field Camera will increase the "observational efficiency" of the telescope dramatically.

Also on the agenda for the mission's five spacewalks will be an attempt to repair electronics in the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Advanced Camera for Surveys, and replacement of the telescope's batteries and gyros to give it as much additional service life as possible.

Because the shuttle fleet is set to retire at the end of next year, the STS-125 mission will be the last to the Hubble telescope. And because Atlantis won't be able to reach the safe haven of the International Space Station from the telescope's orbit, the shuttle Endeavour is standing by on Launch Complex 39B to mount a rescue mission in case Atlantis is damaged on ascent.

Hubble photo: NASA

◄ Share this news!

Bookmark and Share


The Manhattan Reporter

Recently Added

Recently Commented