Hubble Space Telescope Repair Mission Team Honored

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Hubble Space Telescope Repair Mission Team Honored The most spectacular repair call in the history of mankind will be honored by the Space Foundation with the 2010 Space Achievement Award at the 26th National Space Symposium next month at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The historic Hubble Space Telescope Repair Mission, conducted by the crew of STS-125 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, installed a new camera and spectrograph; replaced two 460-pound battery packs that keep the telescope running when its solar arrays are facing away from the sun; replaced one of Hubble’s three Fine Guidance Sensors, which guide the telescope as it focuses on its targets; replaced some of Hubble’s thermal insulation; and attached a docking ring so that a robotic spacecraft can eventually retrieve it from orbit.

The 11-day repair mission included five grueling spacewalks, totaling 37 hours, in which the astronaut-mechanics, wearing bulky gloves and spacesuits, completed exceptionally complex repairs. The result is advanced technology that improves the telescope’s discovery power by up to 70 times beyond what was available when the Hubble Space Telescope was originally put in orbit and an extended operational lifespan until at least 2014. With the newly installed Wide Field Camera, Hubble can observe in ultraviolet and infrared spectrums as well as visible light, peer deep in space in search of the earliest star systems, and study planets in the solar system. The telescope’s new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph allows it to study the structure of the universe, including the star-driven chemical evolution that produces carbon and the other elements necessary for life.

The Hubble Space Telescope Repair Mission was a cooperative effort of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the STS-125 crew, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., ATK, Lockheed Martin, and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

“The Hubble Space Telescope Repair Mission was extraordinary on so many levels,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “The foresight to attempt repairs rather than scrap the investment in the original telescope, the complexity and difficulty of the in-space maneuvers, the stunning visual images of the spacewalks transmitted from space, and an outcome that extended the life of this marvelous portal into the universe – all add up to an unmatched technological  achievement.” 

Space Shuttle Discovery launched Hubble in 1990, and released it into an orbit 304 nautical miles above the Earth. Since then it has circled Earth more than 97,000 times and provided more than 4,000 astronomers access to the stars not possible from inside Earth’s atmosphere. Hubble has helped answer some of science’s key questions and provided images that have awed and inspired the world. The Hubble Space Telescope is an international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. Goddard Spaceflight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute, operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., conducts Hubble science operations. The original Hubble Space Telescope Team was awarded the 2001 Space Achievement Award by the Space Foundation.

The Space Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual or organization for significant contributions in advancing the exploration, development, or utilization of space. Previous recipients include China’s Shenzhou 7 Manned Space Flight Team; the United States Air Force; Bigelow Aerospace; the U.S. Titan Launch Vehicle Team; the Inertial Upper Stage Team; the SpaceShipOne Team; the Ariane 4 Launch Team; the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Teams; the NASA/Industry Galileo Space Probe Team; the men and women of United States Space Command and its component organizations; the Hubble Space Telescope Team; Sea Launch; NASA-Boeing International Space Station Team; Gen. Thomas S. Moorman, Jr., USAF (Retired); Capt. James A Lovell, Jr., USN (Retired); the American Astronautical Society; and Air University.

The award will be presented during the Opening Ceremony of the 26th National Space Symposium on April 12.

 Photo courtesy of NASA

This article is part of Space Watch: April 2010 (Volume: 9, Issue: 4).