HST SM4: Countdown To SM4

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HST SM4: Countdown To SM4
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Preparations for the last servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope are well underway at several NASA facilities.

Almost all 22 thousand pounds of Service Mission 4 hardware is at some stage of integration and test at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. This includes, new gyros, batteries, fine guidance sensor, astronaut tools, support hardware, a new docking ring, the carrier systems that carry it all to orbit inside the shuttle bay and 2 new Hubble science instruments.

The Wide Field Camera 3 begins its 3rd and final thermal vacuum test shortly, where it will experience the harshness of space inside a large simulator for several weeks. The Service Mission 4 astronauts come to Goddard to practice installing the camera into the Hbble Space Telescope high-fidelity mechanical simulator as well as the carrier systems that will transport the camera to orbit onboard the space shuttle. The Wide Field Camera 3 will be Hubble's most advanced camera, increasing it's discovery efficiency by a factor of 5.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, a point-source ultra-violet spectrograph, is ready for flight. Astronauts practice installing COS into the HST high-fidelity mechanical simulator and the carrier systems.

At Goddard, engineers and astronauts work together developing tools and techniques to resurrect 2 malfunctioning science instruments currently on orbit inside Hubble. Both the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Advanced Camera for Surveys suffered power supply failures. This is the first time a repair like this has ever been done on orbit.

One of NASA's premier training facilities at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, is the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. In this 6.2 million gallon swimming pool, Goddard engineers work along side the astronauts as they train for the mission.

Scientists and engineers are excited about flying this last servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope and, we'll update you periodically as preparations continue.

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