Friday, May 15, 2009

Live in Orbit: Second set of gyros won't fit

After smoothly installing the first of three new sets of gyroscopes in the Hubble Space Telescope this morning, two Atlantis spacewalkers have had to give up their attempt to install the second set.

The second Rate Sensor Unit, which holds a pair of gyroscopes, wouldn't sit properly in its slot, for reasons they couldn't immediatly figure out.

Spacewalkers Mike Massimino and Mike Good said something seemed to be preventing the 24-pound unit from sitting evenly so it could be bolted into place.

The astronauts have moved on to a Plan B: they'll try fitting the third gyro unit into the same slot to see if it fits better.

"I know it's kind of frustrating," spacecraft communicator Dan Burbank said from NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston. "Keep up the good work and hopefully we'll get lucky here in just a bit."

Massimino and Good have stored the second unit in a protective bag and retrieved the third unit from its storage compartment in the shuttle's payload bay.

If successful, they'll try again to install the second unit in the last remaining slot, the middle of the three locations that house the boxes inside the telescope.

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