Sunday, May 17, 2009

Live In Orbit: Astronauts Aim For 4th Spacewalk

Spacewalking astronauts will attempt to resuscitate a Hubble Space Telescope spectrograph that died in 2004, and project scientists say the job might prove impossible.

"We've warned from the very beginning that this is a very ambitious mission. We've set the bar very high, and please don't get mad at us if we don't get absolutely everything done," said Dave Leckrone, senior Hubble scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

But he predicted Atlantis mission specialists Michael Massimino and Michael Good will not want to be outdone by crewmates John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel, who successfully repaired the Advanced Camera for Surveys during a spacewalk Saturday.

"I think Mike Massimino and Mike Good are probably feeling pretty competitive," Leckrone said. "They saw how things went (Saturday) and they don't want to be shown up. So I think it's going to go extremely smoothly."

Massimino and Good aim to replace a failed electronics card on the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, and instrument that played a key role in proving that black holes not only exist, they're ubiquitous.

But in order to do the job, the astronauts have to remove a cover plate held in place by 111 tiny, non-captive screws that could get loose, float into the telescope, and damage sensitive optics or electronics.

You'll want to watch the action unfold live here in The Flame Trench as Massimino and Good exit the airlock of shuttle Atlantis around 9:16 a.m. and then set out to revive the Hubble's Great Black Hole Hunter.

Here's a look at the coming day in space:

++5:31 a.m.: Crew wakes.

++6:46 a.m.: Spacewalk preps begin.

++9:16 a.m.: Spacewalk begins.

++12:01 p.m.: Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph power down.

++1:26 p.m." Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph aliveness test.

++2:01 p.m.: Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph functional test.

++2:16: Install new thermal insulation on Hubble.

++3:46 p.m.: Spacewalk ends.

++7:16 p.m.: Procedures review for spacewalk Monday.

++9:31 p.m.: Crew sleep.

1 comment:

Conor said...

111 screws? I know it wasn't meant to be serviced in orbit, but why does any coverplate need that many screws?
I suspect that this repair hinges on whether they can all be unscrewed.