The Big Picture: Hubble Repair

The Big Picture: Hubble Repair

The Big Picture: Hubble Repair

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Sept. 2 2008 7:35 PM

The Big Picture: Hubble Repair

On October 8, the Shuttle Atlantis will launch into space. This mission is special: it's the only one left on the schedule not going to the Space Station. Instead, it will rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope and perform the final servicing mission on the old girl.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

The Big Picture, hosted at the Boston Globe, has a fantastic series of images showing NASA's preparation for this historic mission. My favorite shot is this one:

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practicing the repair of STIS

It shows astronaut Mike Massimino working on my old camera, STIS. On orbit, he'll have to remove 111 screws to open up the camera, change out the shorted-out circuit board, and then replace all those screws.

I wouldn't take his job on a bet. On the ground. Not wearing as space suit.

Still, I can't wait to see this mission lift off. STIS shorted out years ago, but I spent a long time before launch in 1996 getting it ready, and a longer time after it was lofted into space testing and using it. I'd very much like to see it being used again. Not by me; my time is probably past. But STIS is a fine piece of machinery, and a new generation of astronomers should be partaking of its precision and engineering.