Press Release

Shuttle Columbia Rolls to the Launch Pad for the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
January 29, 2002
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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida – Shuttle Columbia returned to the launch pad yesterday after undergoing 2 1/2 years of comprehensive maintenance, modification and processing operations that have made the senior member of the orbiter fleet safer and more versatile than ever.

Columbia remains on schedule for the Feb. 28 launch of STS-109, the fourth mission to retrieve and service the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The orbiter rolled out from high bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) 23 minutes early at 6:37 a.m. after several delays last week caused by a requirement to adjust the steering linkage of the crawler-transporter. The Shuttle was locked down on Launch Pad 39A at 1:03 p.m., after covering the three-mile trip at a speed of .9 mph.

Following its last mission — the STS-93 flight that deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in July 1999 — Columbia underwent more than 100 improvements during its scheduled Orbiter Maintenance and Modification Period. More than 215 miles of wiring were inspected and repaired, and a substantial weight reduction was achieved by removing more that 1,000 pounds of development flight instrumentation wiring which was no longer needed.

Columbia is the second orbiter to be equipped with the Multifunctional Electronic Display Subsystem (MEDS), or “glass cockpit,” which replaces the 32 analog gauges and four cathode ray tube monitors in the old cockpit with 11 state-of-the-art, full-color flat panel displays to reduce the pilot’s workload during critical periods. The first glass cockpit was installed in Shuttle Atlantis in 2000.

Five spacewalks will be conducted during the STS-109 mission to install an advanced new camera system on Hubble, attempt to reactivate its existing infrared instrumentation system, and install new solar arrays and a new power controller to extend the telescope’s lifetime and capabilities.

The seven-person crew is commanded by Scott Altman, a veteran of two previous Shuttle flights, with Duane Carey as pilot; John Grunsfeld as payload commander; and Mission Specialists Nancy Currie, James Newman, Richard Linnehan and Michael Massimino.

The STS-109 crew is scheduled to arrive at KSC today to participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, a dress rehearsal for launch, which will culminate with a simulated countdown late this week.

SpaceRef staff editor.