July 30, 1998
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Eileen M. Hawley/Doug Peterson
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
A team of veteran astronauts will begin training to install new instruments and upgrade systems to enhance the scientific capabilities of the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
Crew members Steven L. Smith; C. Michael Foale, Ph.D.; European Space Agency astronaut Claude Nicollier; and John M. Grunsfeld, Ph.D., will conduct a record six space walks during the STS-104 mission, scheduled for launch in May 2000. Smith will be the payload commander, coordinating the astronauts' space-walking activities.
"The ambitious nature of this mission, with its six space walks, made it important for the payload crew to begin its training as early as possible," said David C. Leestma, director of Flight Crew Operations at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.
The crew will rendezvous with and capture the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, and secure it in Columbia's payload bay using the Shuttle's robot arm. Then, working in teams of two, the veteran astronauts will venture into the payload bay performing a variety of tasks that will improve the productivity and reliability of the telescope.
To enhance Hubble's scientific capability, the astronauts will remove the Faint Object Camera and replace it with the Advanced Camera for Surveys. With its three electronic cameras and complement of filters, this camera is expected to improve the telescope's sensitivity in the ultraviolet range by a factor of ten.
Other primary tasks to be accomplished during the flight include the replacement of Fine Guidance Sensor #2, one of three such devices that help to accurately point the telescope; replacement of the existing solar arrays with rigid, high efficiency arrays; and replacement of a tape recorder with a solid state recorder.
Secondary tasks include the installation of an aft-shroud cooling system to upgrade the thermal protection of some of the telescope's systems; the installation of a new technology cryogenic cooler for the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer instrument, known as the NICMOS Cooling System; and the installation of six voltage/temperature improvement kits, which will improve Hubble's battery charge capability.
In addition, the astronauts will repair and replace much of the multi-layer exterior thermal insulation on the sun-facing side of the telescope. In February 1997, the STS-82 crew noticed peeling on several areas of the insulation and applied four patches to the most affected areas.
Both Smith and Nicollier have previous experience with Hubble. Smith performed three space walks during the second Hubble servicing mission in February 1997. Nicollier operated the Shuttle's robot arm during the first visit to the telescope during the STS-61 mission in 1993. Foale has conducted space walks from both the Space Shuttle and Russia's Mir space station, accumulating more than 10 hours of space-walking experience. Grunsfeld has two previous space flights to his credit.
For more information on the astronauts or the Hubble Space Telescope, go to:
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