Friday, May 15, 2009

Live In Orbit: Second Hubble Spacewalk On Tap

NASA aims to equip its flagship Hubble Space Telescope with energizer batteries today as spacewalking astronauts continue an effort to extend the life of the flagship observatory another five to 10 years or more.

Clad in cumbersome spacesuits, Atlantis mission specialists Mike Massimino and Mike Good plan to venture outside the shuttle's airlock about 8:16 a.m.

Looming four stories tall atop a work platform in the shuttle's cargo bay: the most productive scientific instruments ever devised by human engineers.

The job at hand: Swap out three of the telescope's six nickel-hydrogen batteries -- original equipment that has been in operation since the observatory was launched in April 1990.

Three gyroscopes that play a critical role in stabilizing the space telescope so it can point with precision at celestial objects also are to be replaced.

Three more new batteries and three more new gyroscopes are to be installed on the fifth and last spacewalk planned during NASA's fifth and final Hubble servicing mission.

Here's the shuttle crew's schedule for the fifth day of an 11-day mission:

++4:31 a.m.: Crew wakes.

++5:46 a.m.: Spacewalk preps begin.

++8:16 a.m.: Spacewalk No. 2 begins.

++9:01 a.m.: Gyroscope removal/replacement begins.

++12:21 p.m.: Battery removal/replacement begins.

++1:51 p.m.: Battery aliveness test.

++2:46 p.m.: Spacewalk No. 2 ends.

++3:01 p.m.: Battery functional test.

++4:41 p.m.: Gyroscope functional test.

++5:11 p.m.: Spacewalk No. 3 review.

++8:31 p.m.: Crew sleeps.

You can watch all the action unfold live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the Live Shuttle Broadcast box at the righthand side of the page to launch live coverage of the spacewalk and 24-7 coverage of the Atlantis mission.

Be sure to refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.

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