Thursday, May 14, 2009

Live In Orbit: Spacewalkers Head For The Showers

The first of five spacewalks on NASA's fifth and final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope now is in the history books.

More than seven hours after heading outside the airlock of shuttle Atlantis, mission specialists John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino closed its hatch and settled back into their spaceship.

It was a productive day for the astronauts. They removed a workhorse planetary camera than had been operating for 16 years; they installed a next-generation replacement and also swapped out a broken control unit that routes commands to the telescope's science instruments and data back to Earth.

And they installed a docking mechanism that will enable a robotic spacecraft to latch onto the observatory and guide it on a controlled reentry over remote areas of the Pacific Ocean at the end of its useful life.

"Ready for a hot shower and a good meal," Grunsfeld said as he moved back into the spaceship.

"Well, we'll see what we can do about that," said mission specialist Mike Good, who was looking on from the shuttle's aft flight deck.

Grunsfeld will have to settle for a sponge bath. NASA shuttle orbiters are not equipped with showers.

He'll fared better with dinner. On his menu tonight: Shrimp Cocktail, an astronaut corps favorite; Teriyaki Chicken, Chicken Strips with Salsa; Red Raspberry bar; Greens Garden Of Life Organic Perfect Foods; Edamame, Goji Blend; two servings of Lemonade and decaffeinated Green Tea.

Grunsfeld and Feustel switched their spacesuits off battery power at 4:22 p.m., marking the official end of the 19th spacewalk performed at the Hubble telescope since its launch 19 years ago.

The official duration of the spacewalk: 7 hours and 20 minutes.

Total spacewalking time now tallied at Hubble: 136 hours and 30 minutes.

Next up: Atlantis mission specialists Mike Massimino and Mike Good. The Mikes will head outside at 8:16 a.m. on an excursion aimed at swapping out three nickel-hydrogen batteries and three gyroscopes key to the telescope's pointing control system.

You can watch it all unfold live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the Live Shuttle Broadcast box at the righthand side of this page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live round-the-clock coverage of the STS-125 mission.

And be sure, too, to refresh this page for periodic updates.

No comments: