Feature

PBS NOVA Program on Hubble Servicing Takes Viewers Behind the Scenes
11.05.09
 
Rush DeNooyer and SM4 Engineers NOVA producer Rush DeNooyer (second from right) poses with Goddard HST engineers Steve Leete, Mark Jarosz, Matt Ashmore, Justin Cassidy, Kevin Mathews and Ed Rezac during a break from filming at Goddard. Courtesy: Rush DeNooyer
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Mike Griffin and Rush DeNooyer Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin during his interview for the Hubble special with NOVA producer Rush DeNooyer at NASA Headquarters. Courtesy: Rush DeNooyer
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After more three years in the making, the much anticipated documentary called “Hubble’s Amazing Rescue” debuted October 13 at 8 p.m. EDT on PBS NOVA.

According to executive producer, writer and director Rush DeNooyer, the film takes viewers behind the scenes, offering an in-depth look at the painstaking preparations which ultimately resulted in a picture perfect repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in May 2009.

The show highlights a few of the trials and tribulations that NASA engineers from Goddard Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center and the astronauts endured during preparations for the fifth and final shuttle mission to the famed telescope.

DeNooyer followed a dedicated engineering team based at Goddard that helped choreograph all five spacewalks for the mission. The Goddard engineers trained side-by-side with the STS-125 astronauts in the Center’s large cleanroom and made countless trips to Johnson to assist the astronauts with underwater training sessions in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab’s six million gallon pool at Johnson. The program also includes some of the more gut wrenching moments the astronauts faced during the mission.

The PBS NOVA special was made possible due to a unique collaboration between NOVA and Goddard. DeNooyer recognized early on that gaining unfettered access to NASA facilities was going to be an issue so he solicited help from the Goddard public affairs staff. DeNooyer also asked for and obtained assistance from one of Goddard’s top TV producers Mike McClare.

With access issues out of the way, DeNooyer and McClare worked in tandem embedding themselves in the mission preparation process. Together they documented closed door training sessions and progress meetings that took place at Goddard and Johnson which gave viewers a rare glimpse into the ups and downs of mission preps.

“Our relationship worked really well on so many levels,” said McClare. “Servicing Mission 4 was a big, rich, dynamic story; really too big for a one-hour program. Rush and I pursued many different storylines never knowing until the end how the mission and story would evolve. This meant a lot of shooting and an eye for the right cinematic approach to help viewers understand what it takes to pull off a Hubble servicing mission.”

Three years, one breathtaking Shuttle launch, and five tedious space walks later Hubble is now at the apex of its capabilities. Several breathtaking new science images were released in September 2009 and are absolute proof that Hubble is better than ever and ready to unlock more secrets of the universe.

Viewers may watch the show on-line at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/hubble/

To find out when the show will air again in your viewing area, go to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/schedule.html
 
 
Susan Hendrix
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center