Learn about the mission of the space shuttle STS103 to the Hubble telescope.
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Learn About the Mission of the Discovery Part 3/3 By the third day of the mission, Discovery was on track for its rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope, a day that would culminate in the plan capture of the 12 ½ ton observatory. While the crew slept, the shuttle continued to close in on the Hubble Space Telescope at a rate of about 125 miles with each 90-minute long orbit of the earth. By the time the crew awoke, Discovery trailed the telescope by about 330 miles. The shuttle’s thrusters were fired at 12:38 p.m. to slightly raise Discovery’s orbit and slow the closing right on Hubble. Another engine firing was conducted about 48 minutes later to further adjust the closing rate and aim Discovery to reach a point eight nautical miles behind the telescope, the starting point for the final phase of the rendezvous. Controllers who’d got out Space Flight Center placed the space telescope in an altitude with its closed aperture pointed toward Earth. Curt Brown guided Discovery through an approach from below and fly around and Jean Francois Clervoy powered up the robotic arm to lift it to a position just above its latches along the left edge of the shuttle cargo bag. As Discovery close the final distance to Hubble, four small course correction engine firings fine tune the approach and Clervoy reached out with the shuttle’s robotic arm to grip a grapple fixture on Hubble. The grapple was made one day, 23 hours and 44 minutes after Discovery’s launch from the Kennedy’s Space Center in Florida. Clervoy used the arm to rotate the space telescope and bring its base into the cargo bay. Within an hour, Hubble gleaming silver in its Mylar insulation flanked by golden-colored solar arrays as tall as a 4-story building and with a maximum diameter of 14 feet was firmly attached to the Flight Support System in Discovery's cargo bay. The system provides power from Discovery to the telescope and can rotate and tilt it to facilitate access to its various compartments by space-walking astronauts. An initial, carefully choreographed survey using a camera at the end of the robotic arm was made by the shuttle crew. Whilst the astronauts enjoy their schedules sleep period, those camera surveys continued allowing the scientific experts on earth at the Mission Control Center to form their conclusions as the Hubble’s condition. Join us next time as we watch the crew of Discovery carry out the main objective of STS- 103 mission. The servicing of the Hubble space telescope that includes three space-walks designed to install new equipment and replace old.
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