Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Live In Orbit: Shuttle-Hubble Rendezvous On Tap

The Atlantis astronauts aim to rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope some 350 miles above the planet today, setting the stage for five consecutive days of spacewalking work on the agency's flagship observatory.

With the shuttle and Hubble flying in close formation over Madagascar, Atlantis mission specialist Megan McArthur will snare the four-story observatory with the shuttle's 50-foot robot arm at 12:54 p.m. EDT.

Then she'll gently ease the 12.5-ton craft -- which is about the size of a city bus -- onto a work platform in the expansive cargo bay of Atlantis.

Atlantis mission commander Scoot "Scooter" Altman will be doing the precision piloting needed to bring the shuttle within 30 feet of the telescope. Rendezvous operations will continue about 7:41 a.m. today.

The actual rendezvous began with the precisely timed launch of Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center on Monday.

The final stages will begin at 10:41 a.m. EDT as Atlantis flies about nine statute miles from the observatory. Altman then will then fire the shuttle's maneuvering engines in a Terminal Initiation, or TI, burn. Up to four small mid-course correction burns might be made to bring the shuttle within 600 feet of the telescope.

Altman then will move from his commander's seat on the left side of the cockpit to an aft flight deck work station that affords a look out into the cargo bay. He'll manually guide the shuttle on the final approach to the telescope watching out overhead cockpit windows.

You can watch all the action live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the NASA TV box on the righthand side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage. Refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.

All major mission milestones are listed here in Rev B of the NASA TV Schedule.

A more detailed look at the crew's timeline is here in the Flight Day 3 Execute Plan

1 comment:

Harold Fowler said...

I am amazed at how they can even find the scope out there in space!