Mission Specialist Mike Massimino
Just before Thanksgiving, my crew and I traveled to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to see some of the equipment that we will be installing into the Hubble Space Telescope. The piece of equipment that we spent the most time with is a scientific instrument called the Wide Field Planetary Camera. This new camera will further help Hubble unlock the secrets of the universe by increasing Hubble’s ability to see far into space. It is much bigger than your average camera as it is the size of a baby grand piano. It is also very delicate, and we can only practice with it in a “clean room” which keeps contamination out and requires us to wear these fancy laboratory clothes that we call bunny suits. We are taught to be extremely careful when working with these instruments and with the telescope. This is what makes spacewalks on Hubble a little different than most spacewalks: we are working with very delicate instruments which requires much care when working in a bulky space suit.
Image to right: Astronaut Michael J. Massimino, mission specialist. Image credit: NASA
After the visit to Goddard it was time for Thanksgiving vacation. My family and I went on a trip that required an overnight stay in Newark airport in between our flights. When we left our house in Houston on Saturday, the kids and I were in the car waiting for my wife. The kids and I grew impatient and complained to her that she almost made us miss our plane. My wife just sat there and secretly planned her revenge.
The next morning we had an early morning flight at Newark airport to take us to our vacation spot. My wife woke up early and went downstairs in the hotel for breakfast, leaving me and the kids to get ready on our own. This was her revenge. For example, we spent about 30 minutes arguing over a hairbrush – where is it, who has it, who should get to use it next, who deserves to receive it in the will after my wife and I are gone, etc. By the time we appeared in the lobby we were running late. My wife on the other hand was enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee and informed us very calmly that we had to wait another 15 minutes for the next shuttle bus which would leave us little time to make our flight.
We finally got on the bus and discovered that the bus stop at the airport was nowhere near our gate. From where the bus left us we had to take one of those monorails, along with countless escalators and moving sidewalks. We traveled what seemed like miles within the airport just to reach our terminal. I only wish that my frequent flyer program included mileage traveled within the airport. By the time we reached the gate, out of breath and sweating from running through the airport, we were seconds away from being left behind. But, we made it. And, my wife taught us a valuable lesson – never be impatient with mom.