Space shuttle for Hubble mission rolled to launch pad

日期:2019-02-26 06:10:02 作者:左丘吊毳 阅读:

By New Scientist Space and Reuters (Image: NASA) NASA hauled the space shuttle Atlantis to its seaside launch pad on Thursday, hopeful that a trio of storms churning over the Atlantic Ocean will steer clear of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle is being prepared for an early October launch to the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s final servicing call to the renowned observatory and the only remaining shuttle mission that is not part of the construction and outfitting of the International Space Station. “I didn’t think we’d be rolling out,” said Angie Brewer, the NASA manager in charge of shuttle Atlantis. Meteorologists predicted Tropical Storm Hanna would stay far enough from the central Florida coast so that it would not threaten NASA’s launch plans. Hurricane Ike, a huge Category 4 storm now tracking towards Florida, may not be as benign. “We’ll just have to take it day by day,” Brewer said. Atlantis remains targeted to launch on 8 October though two previous storms, Fay and Gustav, affected operations at several NASA centres. Managers will meet later this month to review launch preparations and set a firm date for Atlantis to start its 11-day house call to Hubble. Spacewalking astronauts are expected to install a new camera and light-splitting spectrograph, repair two other science instruments and replace batteries as well as equipment needed to aim and hold the telescope on targets. Hubble has been in orbit since 1990 and serviced by space shuttle crews four times. With the shuttle fleet due for retirement in two years, Atlantis’s mission will be NASA’s Hubble finale. The mission was initially cancelled after the 2003 Columbia disaster, which killed seven astronauts. NASA decided to only fly the shuttle to the space station, which could serve as a temporary haven for crews if a shuttle sustained Columbia-like damage during launch and was unable to safely return to Earth. But the decision to abandon Hubble was panned by Congress. After a management change at NASA, the mission was revived on the condition that a second shuttle be at the launch pad and ready to fly if the Hubble crew should need an alternative way home. Weather permitting, shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to join Atlantis at the seaside shuttle launch complex on 19 September. The Space Shuttle – Learn more in our continuously updated special report. More on these topics: