HST SM4: HST Crew Aids and Tools

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HST SM4: HST Crew Aids and Tools
07.17.08
 
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Jill McGuire

Manger, HST Crew Aids and Tools
My team builds a variety of tools, anywhere from power tools to different hand tools that the astronauts will use. The biggest challenge for us in designing and developing tools for astronauts is to make it easy for them to use in their suit and especially with their that fatigue easily when they are working on orbit.

Our team is called the “Crew Aids and Tools” it’s not all just tools. We also build different things that aid the astronauts in doing the task. We build all the handling aids for any of the instruments or to transport the ORUs or the Orbital Replacement Units when the are doing the change outs.

EVA time is at a premium. So, any tool that we develop we develop it in order to optimize the time we have up there and make it as easy and simple for the astronauts to use.

Justin Cassidy
Lead Systems Engineer, HST Crew Aids and Tools

We develop tools for HST. One could think you go to the hardware store and actually pick out a tool and use that, and just deliver it with the astronaut to use in space. The space environment is very harsh. It’s very hot, very cold, and it’s also in a vacuum and most tools, power tools for example that you pick up from Home Depot just would not survive in the environment of space.

Mike Massimino
EVA Astronaut, HST SM4

The repair task for this one instrument, it’s about the size of a refrigerator, we call it STIS. But, STIS is an acronym for Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. And that task is a little bit different from what we normally do. In this case, with STIS, we don’t have a replacement module for it, so what we are going to do is we’re going to try to replace a card that has failed inside of the box.

Justin Cassidy
Lead Systems Engineer, HST Crew Aids and Tools

To actually open up an instrument and pull a board had never been thought of nor conceived that we would want to do that and therefore the interfaces were not very friendly to an astronaut.

Mike Massimino
EVA Astronaut, HST SM4

In fact there is a hundred and ten of these very small screws that we need to remove from the instrument in order to gain access to the board we need to replace.

Justin Cassidy
Lead Systems Engineer, HST Crew Aids and Tools

The beauty of the fastener capture plate is, it does capture all the fasteners but it’s got a clear window. And that clear window enables the astronaut, when he takes that power tool, he can actually see the little tiny bit going into the little tiny fastener. So, we have not blocked any of his visibility, yet when he takes that fastener out it won’t come out the little hole that the tool past through.

Mike Massimino
EVA Astronaut, HST SM4

I like all the tools, but the one I’ll probably be using the most is the Mini-Power Tool. I’m looking forward to using that. It’s a little drill that, that is unique tool that I think is going to be used in space for a long time. So, I’m very glad we’re going to be the first ones to use it and I bet you’re going to see a lot of space crews using it for many years on new space ships. This is going to be a pretty cool tool.

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