Learn about the STS103 mission to space to attach the HTS to the Discovery for maintenance.
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Learn About the STS103 Hubble Mission Part 2/2 About 1:45 P<, it was time to perform the major task scheduled for the day, to return the Hubble Space telescope to orbit allowing it to continue its astronomical observations. European Space Agency mission specialist Jean-FranÇois Clervoy maneuvered the mechanical robotic arm provided to NASA by the Canadian Space Agency towards the huge telescope anchored to Discovery. Clervoy then managed to firmly grasp the HST be3fore gently lifting it out of the support structure. A series of computer commands disconnected the Hubble from external power and confirm its readiness for release. The telescope’s aperture doors were commanded to open. And at 4:50PM, Clervoy released the upgraded telescope. Mission commander Curt Brown fired Discovery’s steering jets to begin separating from the telescope. The telescope’s redeployment to place at an altitude of 370 statute miles as the two space craft flew over the South Pacific’s Coral Sea, northeast of Australia. Thirty minutes later, ground controllers at the space telescope operations control center in Maryland were reporting that the telescope was in normal operating mode. With the HST now back bin orbit, each of the seven astronauts on board brought cast back to earth holiday wishes from space in several languages. The message from mission commander Curt Brown was particularly appropriate as the end of the millennium approached. He said “the familiar Christmas story reminds us that for millennia, people of many faiths and cultures have looked to the skies and studied the stars and planets in their search for a deeper understanding of life and for greater wisdom. We the Discovery crew and this mission to the Hubble Space Telescope are very proud to be part of this ongoing search beyond ourselves. We hope and trust that the lessons the universe has to teach us will speak to the yearning that we know is in human hearts everywhere, the yearning for peace on earth and goodwill among all the human family”. On the following day with their primary mission objective successfully completed, Discovery’s astronauts began preparing their spacecraft for its scheduled return to earth. On the list was checking out the flight control system and reaction control jets that support reentry. STS-103 commander Curt Brown along with pilot Scott Kelly first performed checks on the flight control system by activating one of the three auxiliary power units aboard Discovery to allow them to test the various aero services that will be used to steer the shuttle once it has reentered the atmosphere. The crew then did a check of the reaction control system, the maneuvering jets that steered Discovery while the shuttle is in space. Both the FCS and ICS checkouts were without issue. With all systems ready to support, Discovery has return to earth. Later in the day, the astronauts began stowing the equipment they had used during the past week and started to button down Discovery’s on orbit systems. The Ku-Band antenna which provided most of the capacity for data in television relay was stowed later in the day. As the STS-103 mission whines down, the newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope slowly moves through its checkout sequence prior to resuming scientific operations. The HST was now separating from Discovery at the rate of above five miles per 90-minute orbit. All that remains for STS-103 is a safe return and entry flight directory Wayne Hale advises there is a very good weather forecast at both possible landing sites for the nest three days. The final day of mission STS-103, after waving off the first landing opportunity of the day because of a concern with crosswinds at the landing site, the crew was given a go to perform the de-orbit burn which came at 4:48 PM central standard time and caused Discovery to fallout of its 380 statute mile high orbit to start the journey home to the Kennedy Space Center. There pictures just pick up Discovery that she’s 20 miles from the
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