The crew of the space shuttle Columbia will give Hubble a way to open one of its slumbering eyes during the fifth and final scheduled spacewalk of this mission. An experimental cooling system will be installed on a camera that has been dormant since 1999 in hopes of bringing it back to life.
The crew onboard Columbia was awakened at 9:52 p.m. CST by the Mission Impossible: II theme song, performed by Limp Bizkit.
Astronauts John Grunsfeld and Rick Linnehan plan to step out into the shuttle’s payload bay about 2:30 a.m. CST Friday. The objective of the 6 1/2 hour spacewalk is to install the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) Cooling System.
NICMOS was installed on the second servicing mission to Hubble in 1997. The camera operated at extremely low temperatures and its solid-nitrogen cooling block was depleted earlier than expected. Engineers hope the new neon gas cooling system will restore the cold temperatures necessary for the camera to operate.
For the installation, Nancy Currie will give Grunsfeld a ride on the shuttle’s robotic arm to the aft shroud doors, which he will open. These doors are on the opposite side of the telescope from where spacewalkers Mike Massimino and Jim Newman worked on Thursday.
Grunsfeld will then retrieve the NICMOS Cryogenic Cooler from the shuttle's payload bay and both spacewalkers will install the unit inside the telescope. After switching places on the arm Grunsfeld will close the left aft shroud door and Linnehan will move to the payload bay to remove the NICMOS Cooling System Radiator from its carrier. Together, they will install the radiator on the outside of Hubble. Linnehan will feed wires from the radiator through the bottom of the telescope to Grunsfeld, located inside Hubble, who will make the necessary connections to NICMOS. They will then close both aft shroud doors and perform the final activities of the spacewalk to prepare the shuttle payload bay for landing.
Commander Scott Altman and Pilot Duane Carey will provide photo and video documentation of this last spacewalk from inside the shuttle.
After the spacewalk, Columbia’s smallest steering jets will be employed to boost the shuttle and Hubble’s orbit. With the payload bay facing the direction of travel, the shuttle's vernier jets will be fired in a series of pulses, lasting about 36 minutes. The reboost will increase the shuttle and Hubble’s orbit by about 3.7 statute miles.
The crew is to begin its sleep period at 1:52 p.m. CST Friday. The next STS-109 mission status report will be issued Friday morning or as events warrant.
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