Monday, September 7, 2009

Preparing to rescue Hubble

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Preparing to rescue Hubble
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch next month (October 8th), carrying new instruments, batteries and gyroscopes to the Hubble Space Telescope. This will be the final servicing mission to Hubble, the 30th flight of the 23-year old Atlantis, and one of the final 10 flights of the Space Shuttle program, which will be retired in 2010. Even though Shuttle launches may seem to have become commonplace, their preparation and execution is still a months-long process, requiring the work and diligence of thousands to make sure the aging, complex systems are all in perfect condition for launch. Here are some photos of the ongoing preparations for the launch of this mission, STS-125, some of the people involved in making it work, and the crew, who will assume the risks to help keep Hubble alive.





One of the three main engines for space shuttle Atlantis is transported to bay number 1 at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility for installation on June 10, 2008. Atlantis is the designated vehicle for the STS-125 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)


On June 11, 2008, in NASA Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1, technicians coordinate the movement of one of the three main engines being installed on space shuttle Atlantis. Launch is targeted for Oct. 8. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)


The Pegasus barge carrying Atlantis' external fuel tank is towed into the turn basin in the Launch Complex 39 Area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on July 15, 2008. The tank will be offloaded and moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building, once inside the building, it will be raised to vertical, lifted and moved into a checkout cell. (NASA/Jack Pfaller) #



4
In the Launch Complex 39 Area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the external tank for space shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope sits ready for offloading from the Pegasus barge on July 15, 2008. Next stop is the Vehicle Assembly Building, where the tank will be raised to a vertical position, lifted and moved into a checkout cell in the cavernous building. (NASA/Amanda Diller) #
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