Hubble refurbishment – the countdown continues
Galaxy Zoo participants usually have a keen interest in the Hubble Space Telescope. Not only has it delivered unparalleled views of galaxies, and advanced our understanding of cosmic distances, the relation between galaxies and black holes, and their coupled evolution – but we have a project scheduled for the coming year to observe Hanny’s Voorwerp with three of its instruments. Of these three, one is currently sitting in the payload bay of the space shuttle Atlantis, and the other two are out of commission awaiting a service call by the crew of Atlantis. These views (taken from the coast about 10 km from the site) show the shuttle at dusk on May 10, about 16 hours before scheduled launch (May 11, 1401 local EDT time or 1801 UT). The rotating service structure has been pulled around to keep it clear of the launch blast, and floodlights illuminate the entire pad area for continuing work. The safety measures enacted following the loss of Columbia and its crew have led to the unprecedented situation of the shuttle Endeavour sitting on the other launch pad, ready to be prepared for a rescue mission at short notice. This is needed because, unlike missions to the International Space Station, Hubble missions do not offer a safe haven in case of damage to the thermal protection system, or from impacts with space debris. This is the final scheduled visit to Hubble, so the crew has a full schedule of replacements and repairs. Stand by for updates…
Thanks Bill! 😀
Thanks for the report on the Hubble mission Bill. 🙂 All the best for the crew and the mission. 🙂
T-8 hours. Filling of the external fuel tank with liquid hydrogen and oxygen began about an hour ago. Weather forecast still favorable. You can follow the countdown at spaceflight.nasa.gov, including live webcast of NASA TV (under “Realtime data”).
Watching the pre launch coverage and following on Twitter too. 5 hours 16 mins to go and I’m not going to miss a moment. Go Atlantis!
Great Bill, looking forward to the updates 🙂
A bit more info here in my OOTD http://www.galaxyzooforum.org/index.php?topic=275188.0
Best of luck for the mission. Let’s keep those fingers crossed to give Hubble a while longer to go.