Monday, May 18, 2009

Final Hubble Spacewalk is Historic

Atlantis' astronaut John Grunsfeld has been to the Hubble Space Telescope before.

Grunsfeld, who along with crew mate Andrew Feustel, wrapped up his third spacewalk today in which they completed the jobs neccessary to keep NASA's great observatory in space working another five years.

"This is a really tremendous adventure that we’ve been on, a very challenging mission. Hubble isn’t just a satellite - it’s about humanity’s quest for knowledge," Grunsfeld stated at the close of today's spacewalk.

Grunsfeld knows about Hubble and how it works - he has flown up to Hubble on two previous occasions to service it so that it can keep taking those beautiful images of the far reaches of our solar system and the Milky Way Galaxy.

Today's orbital walk was the 23rd and final in support of Hubble servicing, totaling 166 hours and six minutes. Four of Atlantis' seven astronauts spent 36 hours & 56 minutes combined outside in the payload bay performing such upgrades as a new wide field camera; a fine guidance pointing system; insulating blankets and a circuit board.

As Grunsfeld and Feustel floated outside of the airlock at the conclusion of today's spacewalk, Grunsfeld summed up his thoughts on what Hubble and this flight meant to both him and everyone involved or has ever had an interest in astronomy:

"On this mission, we tried some things that some people said were impossible….We’ve achieved that, and we wish Hubble the very best. It’s really a sign of the great country that we live in that we’re able to do things like this on a marvelous spaceship, like space shuttle Atlantis."

"As Drew and I go into the airlock, I want to wish Hubble its own set of adventures and with the new instruments that we’ve installed that it may unlock further mysteries of the universe."
Today's spacewalk concluded at 3:22 pm EDT.

NASA's final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope was met with big challenges. Challenges which a great crew overcame with the help of ground control in both Houston and Greenbelt, Md. to make this flight of Atlantis a highly successful mission to the stars.

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