Space Telescope Operations Control Center
Keith Walyus monitors operations at the Space Telescope Operations Control Center at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.Keith Walyus monitors operations in the STOCC. Credit: NASA At NASA’ Goddard Space Flight Center, located just outside Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, support of the STS-125 mission in Goddard’s Space Operations Control Center has been continuous since early Monday morning.

The Space Operations Control Center, also known as the STOCC, is responsible 24/7, 365 days a year for monitoring all Hubble systems and facilitating all of the telescope’s science observations. Two teams of flight controllers – designated as the Orbit Team and the Planning Team will work closely with the mission control flight team in Houston in coordinating all of the activities planned as part of the final shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Telescope.

In an effort to maximize science data gathering, the STOCC continued with Hubble science operations right up until the launch of Shuttle Atlantis yesterday afternoon. When the call came from Mission Control in Houston that the crew was “go” for on-orbit operations, the STOCC team began transitioning Hubble out of science ops and preparing the observatory for the shuttle’s arrival on Wednesday afternoon.

Recent STOCC activities include reconfiguring the telescope’s science instruments and the NSSC-1 science computer into stand-by mode and changing the shuttle’s pointing system from two gyro mode to three gyro mode. The aperture door on the telescope was closed at 6:22 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.

Early Wednesday morning around 2 a.m., the two large high gain antenna masts on the telescope will be retracted. At about 7:45 a.m. the STOCC will send commands for the solar arrays to move to a 90 degree orientation. And just before 9:30 a.m. the STOCC team will send commands to reduce electrical power load demands on the telescope.

The STOCC team will also be turning off some of the built-in safing systems on Hubble to prevent the observatory from going into a safe mode condition just before grapple of the telescope occurs.

At about 10:40 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, the Terminal Initiation or (TI) burn will take place which will put Atlantis on a final intercept course with Hubble.

When Hubble is within about 7 miles of Atlantis, commanding by the STOCC to the telescope will transition from the TDRSS system to the Space Shuttle through S-band communication. Use of shuttle S-band communications will continue until after Hubble is re-deployed and distance to the Shuttle is greater than 7 miles.

When Atlantis is in close proximity to Hubble on Wednesday, Megan McArthur will use the Shuttle’s robot arm to grab hold of Hubble. Grapple of the telescope is planned for 12:54 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

Following grapple, McArthur will then maneuver the telescope onto the Flight Support System or (FSS) platform in Atlantis’ payload bay. After Hubble is on the FSS, the first activity will be to orient the Shuttle and telescope so that Hubble’s solar arrays can face the sun and Hubble’s batteries can get a full recharge.

Shortly after that, an external connection from the Flight Support System to the telescope will happen. At that point the telescope’s batteries will be taken off-line and Hubble will receive all its electrical power from the Space Shuttle until just before it is redeployed on Flight Day Nine.

The entire Servicing Mission-4 team at Goddard will be anxiously standing by for their first close-up look at Hubble since the telescope was deployed at the end of the STS-109 servicing mission in March 2002.

Ed Campion
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center