Hubble Servicing Mission 3B
The loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia on
February 1, 2003 fills us with a deep sadness.
Our prayers are with the family of the crew of STS-107.
This fourth mission to repair and upgrade the space telescope was on
Shuttle Columbia (OV-102) install the following new
(roughly in order of installation):
Those system on which I have worked feature links above. Clicking
on them affords an inside look at their development. Of all the
the Cryo Cooler is the longest running one, dating back to the HOST
mission in 1997. In some cases, the hardware development
recently, such as in the case of the ARUBA. In any case, after we
dedicate much time to building the flight hardware, we transition to a
phase to prepare for the Servicing Mission itself. This involves
training the astronaut crew (who will work in space), and our entire
(who will work on the ground).
- Solar Array III with the Diode
To ensure adequate power to run the new science instruments, new arrays
will be needed. These rigid units are originally from the Iridium
program, and have much higher output than the current floppy ones that
- Power Control Unit. This unit controls all the
flows from the arrays and batteries to the entire spacecraft. A
with the existing unit uncovered a few years ago requires the
of the PCU. The replacement of this unit requires the power down
of the entire HST, something that has not been done in space before.
- Advanced Camera for Surveys. This fabulous new
will offer ten times the discovery factor from any other previous HST
- Reaction Wheel Assembly. This sub unit provides
for HST to orient itself without using propellants. One of the
units experienced an anomaly several months ago, requiring its
at the eleventh hour.
- NICMOS Cryo Cooler (with
HST's infra-red instrument has been dark for more than two years, and
super cooler will revive it.
- Other smaller items such as New Outer Blanket Layer.
Preparation for the Mission
As part of this training, we have Mission Simulations (called 'sims'),
and Joint Integrated Simulation (called 'jis'). In the former
it involves mainly the staff at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC),
and in the latter case, it involves the entire team associated with the
mission, including the astronaut crew at the Johnson Space Center
sometimes in a water tank to simulate weightlessness. During the
training, we go thru each mission day, calling each day by their
Thus, the first day is called EVA1 (for Extra Vehicular Activity #1),
next is EVA2, etc. A separate team of simulation engineers
the data we see on our screens, and prepare problems and faults for us
to diagnose and repair. By working many of these 'fake' mission
we achieve proficiency at solving problems with the HST and the Space
in real-time when the real mission is underway.
During the third mission training at the Johnson Space Center.
Kevin MacAveety sits to my left.
Compare this image to this one,
which was shot just before SM3A at the end of 1999.
Another look at the CSR (Customer Support Room), where we will all
be located during the
Servicing Mission. This room is in the Mission
Control Center, which is often seen on television
during the missions.
At the Kennedy Space Center
After we built the hardware as described above, they are transported
truck to the Kennedy Space Center and housed at the Vertical Processing
Facility (VPF). The thumbnail below shows the panoramic
For a QuickTime VR 360 degree walk-around, click below (QuickTime 3.0
later needed, available here).
Click here for a 360 degree view with QuickTime VR
click here for a live streaming camera of the VPF (RealPlayer).
The Space Shuttle is assembled at the 525 foot high Vehicle
Assembly Building, one of the largest buildings in the world.
An account of the visit is available here.
Note the many birds enjoying the updraft from the side of the
Since Florida is very flat, this is as close to a mountain as it gets.
This picture shot by Mark Hubbard, to see how, click here.
The VAB sits at the end of a wide crawler way that is paved with river
rock. This rock gets crushed to sand after just
a few trips of the crawler. To see the crawler carrying the
click here (previous mission photo).
On January 24, there was an attempt made to roll out the STS-109 to
Launch Pad 39A, but a problem
with the steering mechanism caused a postponement.
A closer shot of the External Tank and the two Solid Rocket Boosters.
The wings of the Orbiter are just visible on the sides. Note
the people standing
around the left crawler treads that was the one with the problem.