hubble st

May 11th, 2009 - OV-104 Atlantis departs from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A on a final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). STS-125 would be the only mission Atlantis would visit the HST - prior servicing missions were done by Discovery twice, with Columbia and Endeavour each once.

Upgrades to HST included the Cosmic Origins Spectograph, the Wide Field Camera 3 which can record different wavelengths of light, and a device called the Soft-Capture Mechanism, which will be used by a future craft to safely de-orbit Hubble at the end of its life span. HST is expected to continue to operate well into the 2030s.

STS-125 was unique in that it is one of a few missions that had two full Shuttle stacks on the launch pad at the same time. Any damage sustained from the launch that prevented Atlantis from returning home meant that she would be stuck in orbit with only three weeks of supplies. A rescue mission was specifically developed for STS-125, as the low inclination orbit of the HST meant that the International Space Station would effectively be out of reach of Atlantis and her crew.

In the event of Atlantis suffering damage, STS-400 would launch up to the crippled shuttle and extract the crew for a safe return home. OV-105 Endeavour was placed on stand-by at LC-39B until May 21st, after Atlantis was deemed safe to return home, and was released to begin processing for STS-127.

Atlantis and crew would return home May 24th, landing at Edwards Air Force Base - the weather in Florida deemed unsatisfactory for landing the orbiter. STS-125 had five successful EVAs, orbited the Earth 197 times, and featured the first Tweet from space by Astronaut Michael Massimino which read, “From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!

STS-125 was another shuttle mission to feature an IMAX camera, used to document the life of HST and the views of the universe it has brought to us. IMAX: Hubble 3D was released in 2010 and features the launch of STS-125. 

The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwindof spectacular star formation. Visible on the lower left, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Hershel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, was taken in 1995 by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Image Credit: Hubble, A. Caulet (ST-ECF, ESA),NASA

Time And Space

The rising sun and some scattered clouds provide a picturesque backdrop for the Space Shuttle Discovery as it travels along the Crawlerway toward Launch Pad 39A in preparation for the STS-83 mission. The Shuttle is on a Mobile Launch Platform, and the entire assemblage is being carried by a large tracked vehicle called the Crawler Transporter. A seven-member crew will perform the second sevicing of the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during the 10-day STS-82 flight, which launched on February 11, 1997.

Hubble Space Telescope reaches orbit

On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-31 mission. The mission featured the deployment of Hubble, the first of NASA’s Great Observatories to reach orbit. STS-31 was the tenth launch of the shuttle Discovery. On board were astronauts Charles F. Bolden (pilot, now NASA Administrator), Steven A. Hawley (mission specialist), Loren J. Shriver (commander), Bruce McCandless (mission specialist) and Kathryn D. Sullivan (mission specialist, now NOAA Administrator).

In this April 25, 1990 photograph taken with a handheld Hasselblad camera, most of the giant Hubble Space Telescope can be seen as it is suspended in space by Discovery’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) following the deployment of part of its solar panels and antennae. This was among the first photos NASA released on April 30 from the five-day STS-31 mission.

Image credit: NASA

Astronaut Kathy Thornton jettisons a damaged solar array panel into space during Hubble’s first servicing mission, STS-61, in December 1993. When the solar panels were replaced, astronauts found a bend in the casing of this panel. The panel couldn’t be returned safely to Earth, and was released into space. Earth’s gravitation pulled the jettisoned panel toward Earth’s atmosphere, where it entered and ultimately burned up.

Hubble’s solar panels generate power for the telescope by converting sunlight into electricity. The arrays power the telescope and charge its batteries while Hubble is in sunlight. When Hubble moves into the dark portion of its orbit, the batteries provide power.

Astronaut F. Story Musgrave, anchored on the end of the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, prepares to be elevated to the top of the
Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to install protective covers on the
magnetometers. Astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman inside payload bay, assisted
Musgrave with final servicing tasks on the telescope, wrapping up five
days of space walks.


     On May 24, 2014, I visited the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal. Needless to say, this property is home to amazing historical events. I was able to capture a small portion of that in this photoset. I’ll explain each photograph, one by one. 

     First photo: Rocket Park is home to several Wernher von Braun creations. The largest of which is the Saturn I. 

     Second Photo: More of Rocket Park. These rockets, from left to right, are the Jupiter C, (which used to have a mockup of the Explorer 1 nosecone, but was recently blown off in a storm), Redstone IRBM, V-2 Missile, (this particular one manufactured in Germany), and a Hermes A-1.

     Third Photo: A Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster displayed in Propulsion Park, in front of the Propulsion Research & Development Laboratory. Various components of this booster were used on over 30 shuttle flights, including Hubble service missions and STS-1, the first shuttle flight.

     Fourth Photo: The S1C Test Stand, finished in 1964 was used for static testing of the first stage of the Saturn V rocket. 

     Fifth Photo: The Dynamic Test Stand was built to simulate the vibration forces of launch. The first Saturn V rocket, SA-500D, which I covered in a previous post (click here to view), was tested extensively in this stand, along with Space Shuttle Enterprise. Before Enterprise was tested, the Pathfinder Orbiter, the structural fit test article, was used to test clearances in the test stand. Pathfinder was covered in a previous post (click here to view).

     Sixth Photo: The International Space Station Habitation Module, which is a flightworthy section that never flew. The Habitation module housed facilities to eat, shower and sleep, as well as toilet and medical facilities. The module was cancelled after the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.

     Seventh & Eighth Photos: As the sign reads, this is the International Space Station Payload Operations Center. The responsibility of operating the International Space Station is split between two control rooms. One in Huston, and this one. Huston drives the spacecraft. This control room oversees scientific experiments.

     Ninth Photo: An International Space Station simulator, mainly used by ISS ground crews to solve problems, then relay problem solving steps to the operational crew.

     Another notable site on the Marshall Space Flight Center property is the historic Redstone Test Stand, which was covered in a previous post (click here to view).

Mission Specialist James H. Newman conducts an in-space evaluation of the Portable Foot Restraint (PFR) which will be used operationally on the first Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing mission and future Shuttle missions. He is positioned on the edge of Discovery’s payload bay. Behind him the starboard Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod can be seen with the soft glow of an Earth limb.

In this April 25, 1990, photograph taken by the crew of the STS-31 space shuttle mission, the Hubble Space Telescope is suspended above shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay some 332 nautical miles above Earth. The Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, controlled from in-cabin by the astronaut crew members, held the huge telescope in this position during pre-deployment procedures, which included extension of solar array panels and antennae.