Hubble SM4 Launch: Behind the Scenes at Goddard
Hubble SM4 launch image, STOCC image composite Credit: NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center
>Watch Goddard's SM4 video
Employees at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center cheered and applauded as shuttle Atlantis successfully launched at 2:01:56 p.m. ET on May 11. The Atlantis crew is embarking on the fifth and final shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. The work they do is intended to extend Hubble's lifespan by at least five years.

Goddard employees had the opportunity to watch the launch in Building 8's auditorium and at the Goddard Visitor Center, where members of the public could enjoy the viewing as well. In the Building 8 auditorium in the hour before the launch, Mansoor Ahmed, manager of the Hubble Operations Project, and Dr. Jim Garvin, Goddard's chief scientist highlighted the complexity of the mission, which will make Hubble more powerful than ever before.

Goddard plays a major role in the Hubble servicing mission. Astronauts trained with sophisticated Hubble models in Goddard facilities, and all of the telescope's components went through extensive testing at the center.

Goddard's Space Telescope Operations Control Center staff upload the commands to Hubble that tell it where to point and when, what sensing instruments to use, and when to send data back to Earth. They also troubleshoot any problems that arise. During the servicing mission, the control center plays a vital role in ensuring all the new Hubble components will operate properly after the astronauts install them.

Rob Garner
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center