Feature

Astronauts Back at Goddard with Aim at Perfecting On-Orbit Repair Tasks
03.16.09
 
Hubble astronaut Andrew Feustel performs a tool evaluation for the repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument. He is shown here inside the large clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center during a March 12 training session.Hubble astronaut Andrew Feustel performs a tool evaluation for the repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument. He is shown here inside the large clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center during a March 12 training session.  Credit: NASA/Eric Foster    > View larger image On Thursday, March 12, Hubble astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel arrived at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for one last practice round inside the Center’s large cleanroom.

"This is a monthly training session where John and Drew hone their skills to become as efficient as possible on orbit,” said HST EVA team lead Mark Jarosz of Goddard.

After a short meeting with the HST team, Grunsfeld and Feustel donned cleanroom gear and set their sights on improving their efficiency repairing Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument imaging capability, which failed in January 2007.

Although the astronauts use specially designed tools during their under water training at Johnson Space Center, the tools are not as refined as the flight tools. This time around Grunsfeld and Feustel got an opportunity to handle the flight Indexing Card Extraction Tool, known among the team as ‘Ice-T’. This practice session allowed the astronauts to become familiar with how the real tool looks and feels in their gloved hands.

The HST team flew the tool up from Kennedy Space Center and will send it back down for the crew to use during an April 2 crew training session. "It’s important for the astronauts to practice using flight tools, otherwise they don’t get the full picture," Jarosz said.

While Grunsfeld is the primary crew member responsible for repairing ACS, Feustel serves an important role as his team member and back-up. So while Grunsfeld wedges himself inside Hubble’s aft shroud, drilling out screws and pulling circuit boards, Feustel will be at the ready, handling and retrieving necessary tools and components.

"Hubble servicing missions can be compared to dental work," said HST deputy program manager Mike Weiss of Goddard. "While the dentist fills your tooth or fits you for a crown, his assistant is at the ready handing him, or her, the right tools. Without an assistant the task would take much longer and the chance for errors would increase."

The HST team has spent months developing procedures and tools necessary for this last Shuttle servicing mission to Hubble. In the process they have successfully overcome many obstacles such as safely gaining access to failed circuit boards inside ACS, figuring out a way to pull out boards while wearing pressurized gloves, and installing a new cover on ACS once repairs are complete.

Jarosz says the astronauts will complete one more under water training session at JSC prior to launch and then it’s show time. With numerous hours of practice under their belts, the astronauts and HST team are confident this last trip to Hubble will leave the telescope in tip-top shape.