NASA Podcasts

STS-125 Highlights
06.26.09
 
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NARRATOR:
The astronauts of STS-125 could not wait to begin their mission, and it showed as they walked to the Astrovan on May 11, 2009, and headed to Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Scott Altman, a veteran astronaut, would command a team of seven on the last mission to service and upgrade NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope is the cornerstone of discovery for the agency, and the astronauts know its importance.

Altman: It’s been 50 years since President Kennedy challenged us to do the other thing not because it was easy but because it is hard.

Leinbach: Enjoy the ride, pal.

NARRATOR:
The on-time launch took advantage of a flawless day of sunny weather at Kennedy.

LAUNCH COMMENTATOR:
4, 3, 2, 1 . . . and liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis on a final visit to enhance the vision of Hubble into the deepest grandeur of our universe.

KYLE HERRING:
Houston now controlling, Atlantis is on its way.

NARRATOR:
The astronauts quickly began setting up space shuttle Atlantis quickly for its work ahead.

Massimino:
Any reason why you have sunglasses on in the middeck where there is no light, I mean, no sun?

Feustel:
Cause they look cool!

Massimino:
Ah, there’s my man.

NARRATOR:
With Altman at the controls of Atlantis, Megan McArthur piloted the shuttle’s robotic arm to grab the waiting Hubble Space Telescope and stand it inside the cargo bay.

ALTMAN:
Houston, Atlantis. Hubble has arrived on board Atlantis with the arm.

NARRATOR:
The capture of Hubble set the stage for five spacewalks, or EVAs, by four astronauts.

NARRATOR:
Astronauts John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel performed the first spacewalk.

Feustel:
Too cool! Woo-Hoo!

NARRATOR:
Hubble pulled a surprise early, with a bolt refusing to turn to release a grounding strap. Astronaut Feustel switched tools to try to free the strap.

Feustel:
OK, here we go. I think I got it. It turned, it definitely turned.

Grunsfeld:
Yep.

Feustel:
It turned. And it’s turning easily now.

MISSION CONTROL:
Houston, for EVA, we copy, we saw that. That’s great news.

NARRATOR:
The bolt’s release allowed Feustel and Grunsfeld to replace the Wide Field Camera 2 with a more advanced model.

NARRATOR:
It was like giving Hubble a better set of eyes for its next generation of observations.

NARRATOR:
The spacewalk gave Hubble a new camera and fine guidance sensors, just as planned.

NARRATOR:
The astronauts took out another older unit known as COSTAR which was placed inside Hubble in 1993 to repair the spherical aberration on the main mirror. Modern instruments no longer need the corrective device. In its place, astronauts installed the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, again enhancing Hubble’s vision by giving it a new way to observe the formation of elements essential for life, such as carbon and iron.

NARRATOR:
Spacewalkers used newly developed tools to replace parts inside Hubble that were not intended to be replaced in orbit, such as electrical cards.

Grunsfeld: Card one is out.

Good: Nice.

Grunsfeld: I heard that.

Good: Did great, John.

NARRATOR:
While the spacewalkers worked outside, the team inside the shuttle watched carefully, moving the arm, steering Atlantis and coordinating the extensive list of tasks.

NARRATOR:
With their servicing work complete, Grunsfeld, an astronomer before becoming an astronaut, summed up the work.

GRUNSFELD:
Hubble isn’t just a satellite, it’s about humanity’s quest for knowledge.

NARRATOR:
After preliminary testing from Earth showed the new instruments working well, Megan McArthur released Hubble to fly by itself again.

MCARTHUR:
Five seconds. Mode switch is auto. Three, two, one . . . release.

NARRATOR:
Hubble is expected to operate for many more years, continuing to cast its gaze on the farthest objects in the universe, and also pinpoint newly discovered planets outside our solar system along the way.

NARRATOR:
The astronauts, on the other hand, turned their gazes back to Earth, and a spell of wet weather in Florida that forced Atlantis to land at Edwards Air Force Base in California on May 24th.

ALTMAN:
Our hats are off to you all. Thank you so much.

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