Go Atlantis!

Servicing Mission 4 to the Hubble Space Telescope launches on Monday (if all goes well).  Weather looks good, and so far nothing schedule-killing has happened.  Almost there…

The final walkdown of the Hubble stuff was today.  No personal cameras allowed, due to they want to minimize the amount of stuff that might get dropped, so no photos until I get the official ones.  Just words.  And words cannot convey.  We drove out to the pad under the hot Florida sun, took off jewelry (again, falling things bad), left cell phones and key fobs in the car (unwanted radio emissions probably won’t set off any of the pyro activators, but probably isn’t good enough), taped watches so they can’t fall off, tethered eyeglasses, and went up to level 135 (that’s measured in feet) where the gowning room lives.

It’s a great view up there!  On one side, the Atlantic ocean, on the other, pad 39B, with our rescue shuttle sitting there Just In Case.  Into the gowning area, with the usual protocol:  shoe cleaner and tacky mats, head cover on, coveralls on, booties on (shoes stay on dirty side of the bench, booties on the clean side), then face mask and gloves.  They tape the gloves to the coveralls here, which isn’t always done.  No ground straps, because we’re not getting within a meter of the electronics.

Then into the clean room, which has five levels of scaffolding allowing visual access to the bay.  Elevator up to the fourth level, where the MULE (Multi-Use Lightweight Equipment carrier) is holding Wide-Field Camera 3 and a bunch of other stuff.  Everything’s blanketed with gold multi-layer insulation, and there’s the big arm, labeled “Canada”.  And the other one, on the other side.  And the heat radiators on the inside of the open cargo bay doors.

And then it hits you.  This isn’t a mockup or a simulator.  Not a mechanical substitute to measure clearances.  Not a foam replica for training purposes.  This is the shit that’s going up.  In four days John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel and the rest (hey, I’m allowed to put ACS Repair at the top of the list!) will be climbing 300 miles up with this stuff, and hooking it up to the Hubble.  Sweet.

The scaffolding wraps around to the sides, for better viewing (and actual access to the hardware if you’ve taken your Elevated Work training and have your safety harness on).  But in several places you have to squeeze through, shin down, or otherwise think small to get to the sides.  I may dream about Japanese tea houses tonight.

Okay, there’s the Large ORU (Orbital Replacement Unit) Protective Enclosure (LOPE) (nested acronyms are fun!), where the ACS Repair electronics live.  And the New OPE (NOPE), where our tools are.  As far as I can tell, they are fine.  All the latches are closed, and nothing looks out of place.  Thumbs up!  Back outside to level 135, which is a long way up if you’re afraid of heights (especially since you’re walking on a grid).  Happily, none of us was.  Back to the elevator and down to the ground, and time for lunch.

Four more days!

3 Responses to “Go Atlantis!”

  1. 1 Maggie

    That is so damn cool! *is jealous*

  2. 2 Craig

    I had an arm labeled “Canada.” God I was so drunk that night.

    Seriously dude, that is very darn cool.

  3. 3 Gail

    Awesome description, Kev. Wish I could get to see that, someday!
    Craig – you almost made me spit my drink out. 😛

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