Friday, May 01, 2009

Hubble TV Show Debuts Saturday on WBCC-TV

A Florida Today television special on NASA's upcoming mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope will debut on WBCC-TV Saturday and then air several times before a scheduled May 11 launch.

"Saving Hubble: Giving NASA's Greatest Telescope A New Life" will air at noon Saturday on the local Public Broadcasting Service TV channel -- PBS For Florida's Space Coast.

The half-hour special also will be broadcast at:

  • 8 p.m. Monday, May 4.
  • 10 p.m. Wednesday, May 6.
  • 9 p.m. Friday, May 8.
  • 7 p.m. Sunday, May 10.
  • 11 a.m. Monday, May 11.

Liftoff of Atlantis and a seven-member astronaut crew is scheduled at 2:01 p.m. May 11.

A three-day launch countdown is scheduled to pick up on Friday, May 8. The astronaut crew, led by veteran mission commander Scott Altman, is scheduled to jet to Kennedy Space Center that same day. The crew includes pilot Gregory "Ray J" Johnson and five mission specialists: robot arm operator Megan McArthur and spacewalkers John Grunsfeld, Andrew "Drew" Feustel, Michael Massimino and Michael Good.

The television show will detail plans for NASA's fifth and final Hubble servicing mission, which will feature five spacewalks on consecutive days. The astronauts aim to outfit Hubble with two new state-of-the-art science instruments, repair two others and equip the telescope with new batteries and gyroscopes -- gear that will enable it to operate in orbit for at least another five to 10 years.

People who have worked on the Hubble project for decades help tell the story of NASA's flagship observatory, which was an infamous failure when first launched and has gone through very public ups and downs over the course of the past two decades.

The show also details NASA's plan to launch shuttle Endeavour and a crew of four astronauts on what would be a daring and dramatic rescue mission should Atlantis sustain critical damage during the mission.

The show examines the telescope's importance to astronomy and our understanding of our solar system and the universe, and it winds up with The Best of Hubble -- iconic Hubble images and the favorites of some of the folks who have spent entire careers working with the most productive science instrument ever devised by human engineers.

WBCC-TV is broadcast over the airwaves on Channel 68. Local cable television broadcasts WBCC-TV on Channel 5.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge and save the NASA image of spacewalking astronauts working on the Hubble Space Telescope in the cargo bay of shuttle Discovery. The photo was taken by the crew of STS-103 during NASA's third Hubble servicing mission in December 1999. You can also click on the enlarge shot to get an even bigger, more detailed view.

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