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Home > November 2014 > Astronauts Shared Memories of Hubble and STS-125 at the Intrepid Museum
Astronauts Shared Memories of Hubble and STS-125 at the Intrepid Museum
Posted: 11/13/2014 11:10:28 AM

Last Mission
On Wednesday, November 12, the Intrepid Museum hosted the astronauts from STS-125 Atlantis for a panel discussion on the Last Mission to Hubble.

Panelists included mission commander Scott D. Altman, pilot Gregory C. Johnson, and mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Megan McArthur Behnken and Michael Good. Journalist and former ABC news anchor Charlie Gibson moderated the panel. Gibson last interviewed the crew in 2009 while they were aboard Atlantis.

When space shuttle Atlantis launched in May 2009, all involved knew this STS-125 repair mission would be the final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope. It was the last chance to upgrade its systems and install new equipment, including a new Wide Field Camera, and, if successful, to ensure its operational future for years to come.

The panelists discussed everything from the feeling of spacewalking to bonding as a crew to space science and faith.

Michael Good shared how he felt after doing his first ever spacewalk, working with Mike Massimino.
"Most of the time, your focus is two to three feet in front of your face, with your nose in the telescope,” he said. “But as I came out the airlock that first time, I looked out through the payload bay doors at the earth. From up there, you can tell it's a planet. You can see the whole horizon and the thin blue atmosphere around it. It's incredibly beautiful. Everything up there is in high definition.”

Charlie Gibson, who covered much of STS-125 for ABC news, asked the crew what they thought was Hubble’s greatest impact, noting, “Hubble put the universe on the wall in every science classroom in schools across the country and all over the world.”

"I'm not an astronomer. My answer is not in the technical area for astronomy,” Megan McArthur Behnken responded. “But the telescope was designed to answer specific questions about unlocking the mysteries of the universe. It has extended our ability to explore the universe in a way that we weren't smart enough to know about when we started."

John Grunsfeld and Scott Altman both highlighted the crew on the ground and all those who worked on Hubble when it originally launched, up through planning robotic servicing missions to Hubble that helped STS-125 when they were able to go into space.

"Hubble is a heritage of people who worked on it for so much of their lifetimes,” John said. “We got to work with and meet people who were walking Hubble encyclopedias."

“We put a lot of talent together [on the mission] and everybody tried to use that to the best of their abilities to make things work,” Scott added. “But it's not just us up here; it's a huge group of folks on the ground too.”

The panelists shared stories of how they would work with the ground crew, including trying to confuse the team so they could get up early and get more work done. The seven-person crew also grew close by taking a 10-day kayaking trip in Alaska before the mission and working and practicing together in the neutral buoyancy lab. Gibson also asked if the panelists would go back to space (consensus: yes) and if space colonization would be possible one day (Mike Good: yes, but not in my lifetime). The panel concluded with a Q&A session from the audience.

The Last Mission to Hubble panel discussion is the first in a series of events around the Museum’s new HUBBLE@25 exhibition, which is now open in the Space Shuttle Pavilion through September 14, 2015. The next event is a conversation between science journalist Miles O’Brien and photographer Michael Soluri, who had exclusive, behind-the-scenes access at NASA during preparations for the STS-125 Hubble Servicing Mission.

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