Interview: Richard Linnehan
STS-109 Crew Interviews with Richard Linnehan, mission specialist.
you talk a little bit about when you decided to become an astronaut
and what made you want to take that career path?
Yeah, you know,
I guess there's no time in my life that I can remember growing up
that I didn't want to be an astronaut. But then, that's easy to
say. What little boy or what little girl doesn't want to be an astronaut?
You know, they think about what they want to be when they grow up.
But, I had it in the back of my head the whole time. And I remember…I
was a big…I watched all the launches whenever I could on TV.
And I used to try to get my grandparents to go to Florida, to take
me to see a launch. And we never got to do that because we lived
in New England. But, I got accepted to veterinary school, and at
the time I was debating whether I wanted to be a pilot, a military
pilot, or a veterinarian. And I was kind of lucky enough to get
accepted into both programs, but my advisor in undergraduate was
a veterinarian, and he convinced me that I wanted to be a veterinarian
and not, as he put it, "a glorified bus driver." I don't
want to say that too loud around here! So I went to veterinary school.
And you know, I always had in the back of my mind I wanted to fly.
And I almost ended up leaving veterinary school after 2 years and
going in to become a pilot again. But then, [I] thought about it.
I was getting a little, you know, getting a little old there. And
[I] finished veterinary school and thought I might try that later
on. And it never happened because I got off into other things. I
was into pathology. I was a zoo veterinarian. I became a zoo veterinarian…specialized
in marine mammals. Worked at the Baltimore Zoo for several years,
and I was at Johns, kind of a rotational thing at Johns Hopkins with comparative pathology and zoo animal medicine. And I really
got into that and wanted to pursue that as my career. But, at the
same time, I knew that NASA was going to be hiring another astronaut
class. And I had applied straight out of veterinary school in 1985.
And of course, that year they looked at the applications was the
Challenger disaster; so they stopped applications for several years.
And I think the next class after that was probably, I think, 1990.
When the first class came in. And by then I had started the residency
program and was working and doing some other things. And I had [been]
accepted into a program with the U.S. Navy. So I was about to head
to San Diego. But, I always had it at the back of my mind. In a
way I was really lucky to get the military program because I did
a lot of flying, a lot of military airlifts in different aircraft
- helicopters, large jets. And although I wasn't a pilot, I got
a lot of air time in some of those military aircraft. And I think
that helped me in my application because, in '91, I put an application
in with NASA. It was another kind of nexus. So "What am I going
to do now? You know, I could go be a veterinarian again at a zoo
or work, research or a veterinary college or something else."
And I decided I'd put my application in with NASA again just because
it…basically because I'd never got it out of my head. I just
wanted to see. And I never really thought, you know, I would have
a chance because, you know, everyone always goes, "Well, what's
a veterinarian want to work for NASA for?" And then I tell
them, "Well, the same reason a physicist wants to work for
NASA. The same reason a doctor does. The same reason a pilot does,
believe it or not. Just because I want to be a part of the space
program!" And you know, I can get into this a lot. But a lot
of the early stuff done in the space program was with primates:
chimps, macaques. And that was all done by veterinarians out at
Holloman Air Force Base. In fact, they were heavily involved early
on with a lot of the animal research going on. So I figured, "Well,
NASA needs one of those guys again! And it might as well be me."
So I applied. You know, I didn't really think I was going to get
accepted for an interview. And I got an interview, which, you know,
amazed me! So here I am in San Diego, trying to decide what I'm
going to do. And then I said, "Well, I got an interview. But,
you know, I won't get in." Because I went out for an interview
with 88 other people and did the interview. And I think I did pretty
well. But, it came back, you know, "Well, we'll tell you in
a month or two." You don't hear anything, you don't hear anything,
and you just kind of say, you know, you get yourself ready for the
big, you know you're not going to get it. And so the big joke was
that one or two people would call you. And if it was one person
calling you, you immediately knew you were out. That was it.
And if it was
the other person who called you, you were in. So came the day and
I was out actually in the water all day. I was in a wet suit in
the water. And apparently they called about six or seven times.
And they kept running down and telling me I had a phone. I'm like,
"Call them back, I'll call them back." You know, I didn't
know who it was! So I get back in there, get out of my wet suit
(I was in the water with some animals), and there's these notes
all over my office: "Call NASA. NASA called. Call this."
So I jump on the phone and I call up, and I have this number. And
sure enough, it's the guy you don't want to hear from. And I'm like,
"Oh!" So I'm sitting there going, you know, "I don't
even want to talk to this guy!" And I'm kidding because he's
a great guy. But as it turns out, they worked a little trick on
me. In fact, he put the other guy on after I answered the phone,
who could ask me if I wanted to come out and work for NASA. And
you know, so what was I going to say at that point? "Yeah,
I think so. I'll do that." So in '92 I came out with the 14th
class, called "The Hogs," and been here since 1992 in
Houston and flew my first mission. I was a bit of a straggler for
about four years in STS-78. The second one about two years after
that, STS-90. And it's been another four years for 109, which will
fly, hopefully, in about 2, 2½ months or so.
a great story. Can you pick…is there one most memorable experience
since becoming an astronaut? Or are they spread out.
You know, there
are some memorable experiences. I can think of several. I mean,
some funny anecdotes, things like that. But I would say, you know,
that first space flight. I mean, because it's your first space flight.
And you know, you don't know what to expect. You do all this training
and you're wondering. It's kind of like being in vet school again.
It's like, "What should I study? What's the most important?
What do I need to know more than this?" Then you finally say,
"Well, I need to know it all! So what do I, how do I prioritize
it? How do I study?" And you know, not that I know any better
now, but I have a general idea of kind of what to expect. And that
first mission, you just, you know, you want to do so well. You want
to perform. And you're really hyped up. And you don't really have
time to enjoy yourself at all until you're finally up in space and
you realize, and you look out and you go, "Man, I'm here! I'm
actually here! I'm floating around, looking out." And the doors
open and you look out, and you're like, my, so I have to say that
first view out the overheads was incredible because the first thing
out, my first job as an astronaut was to take pictures of the external
tank as it separated with a huge camera lens. It was about the size
of a bazooka! And I had to like wedge myself in the window and take
these pictures. And that, in and of itself, was like I didn't even
know if I could do that, much less, you know, worry about if I put
film in the camera, you know, and then try to explain that when
you get back down because you're so excited! But I think what I
remember really is everybody was around the aft windows and the
doors just opened. And then, we were on our tail. Our orientation,
well, here's the Earth and here's the tail of the orbiter, and we
were actually going this way. And as you looked down, there's the
tail of the orbiter and just the Earth and the oceans. And it was
just like, you know, it's like no one said anything. It was…there
was nothing to say! It's like you can't say anything that would
explain how you feel. So that was a real highlight for me. And one
other thing I had mentioned the same flight. I'm kind of into astronomy
myself. And I'd never really got to see a good picture of the Southern
Cross. It's really hard to see from the northern hemisphere. And
the first night up there, I got up and I'm looking out at the stars
and we're going over the southern hemisphere, and there's this huge,
just bright constellation, the Southern Cross is up there! And I
just, I still remember: I just stared at it. I couldn't believe
it! You know, that I could see it that well and it was so bright.
And I just…I'll always remember that.
there…you mentioned some of the people…talking about your
career steps that…influenced you.
there more people that...?
I think, you
know, that's a tough one because, you know, if you really think
about it, one little turn, misstep, here or there…I should
say misstep or chance thing that happened when you met somebody
and they got you interested in something…a teacher in school
who…maybe you weren't interested in science but they got you
interested in science. And all these little things. You never know
where you would've ended up or what would've happened if you hadn't
met that one person or done that thing. And so I can think of people
in high school and college, just really great teachers, good professors.
I can think of several people in college who helped me out a lot.
And you know, not so much with NASA but just with surviving school
and life and helping me, really good friends from…my advisors
in undergraduate, the Moores, who was a professor of mine (Joe and
Maggie). They ended up putting me up at their house and helping
me through vet school. And he advised me about what to do. And you
know, people like that are probably the most important people for
me in my life in terms of letting me see what it was like and, you
know, how you could be helped and how they did help me in terms
of helping me with my undergraduate education and pushing me to
apply to vet school and basically helping me get in. And if I hadn't
obviously been accepted at veterinary school, which was, to me,
a hard thing to do, too, I would never have ever made it into NASA.
So I can look back and all the things that happened, even as far
as late high school and early college, and see that, you know, "Wow,
if I hadn't have done that! Or, if that person hadn't done this
for me or helped me out, I wouldn't be here today." So it's
like…I think it's really…I think you can't say…I
think I and most people in this office cannot take credit for who
they are and what they are and their success. And it's easy to say,
"I'm lucky." And I think I am. But, it's not just me that
was successful. It was all those people who made me what I am. And
I'm lucky that I got to meet them and I'm here today because of
is funny like that.
tell you. When all is said and done, when you guys are finished
servicing the Hubble, what impact personally and professionally
do you think working with such an advanced tool will have on you?
You know, I've
thought about this a lot. John Grunsfeld, who's EV-1 and who'll be my team lead on the EVA teams, is a really good friend. He's
in my class. We came in together. One of the smartest guys, hands
down, I've ever met in my life! And John flew the last Hubble mission. He's an astrophysicist, you know, University of Chicago, MIT. Just
knows his stuff cold. And excellent skills EVA. And I'm looking
towards him kind of to lead me along, so to speak. And I talk with
John a lot, you know. His background is an astrophysicist. Much of what he's done has involved Hubble before he ever came to NASA…you
know the great telescopes, the land-based ones. He worked at Palomar,
and he's obviously done some research on Hubble and other things
like that. So it kind of…it's an incredible experience for
him to be greased in like that. And here I am, the veterinarian,
and people are going, "Well, what's a veterinarian going on
the Hubble for?" And I'm just lucky to be in the mission and
to get to do an EVA, an extravehicular activity. But I also have
some interest in astronomy, even though I may take care of animals.
And I've always been interested in astrophysics…as a layman.
And I look at this mission; I've had two missions before this, both
life sciences missions. This will probably…I think I'll look
back on this in my old age (which isn't that far off now!), but
I'll look back on this and think, "And this is probably going
to be the most important thing I've ever done in my life."
And I really don't think, I mean, not to belittle myself, but I
really don't see anything else happening later on in my life that's
going to be as important as this mission. And the reason I say that
is: both missions I had before that were very important. We got
a lot of research, a lot of life sciences, basic science and data.
But, when you think about Hubble, it's probably the most important
scientific instrument ever built by man. It definitely has made
more discoveries than any piece of scientific equipment ever built
by man. It's NASA's icon. It's pretty much the crown jewel. And
people look at NASA or think about NASA or think about astronomy
or stars, everything we look at, I mean, it's almost become like
a part of Americana; a myth. Everything has to do with Hubble that
we see. I mean, look at these old Star Trek episodes, with all these
funny stars and these wild, like psychedelic galaxies; and you go
like, "That doesn't look like that!" And then you see
pictures of the real thing and go, "It does look like that!"
You know, and it's just amazing that I'm going to [be] part of this!
Because I consider Hubble to be like I said, part of the American
myth. I don't know how else to put it. Like, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, you know. The Saturn V Program. Apollo. Hubble is right there. And
when you gauge history and time, scientific knowledge and how it
progresses, and society and civilization, I think you've got to
have Hubble in there as a big bookmark. Because it took us from
land-based astronomy to space-based astronomy. And we had smaller,
other things up there before, sure. But, nothing, nothing like Hubble!
And we're not going to have anything like Hubble for quite a while
again. We have actually looked back in time, like at least 12 billion
years! We can actually see 12 billion years back in time what the
universe was like. And nothing like that has ever happened before.
And with the ACS (the Advanced Camera for Surveys), we're going
to be able to increase by ten-fold the imaging capability of what
we can see in terms of areas and light gathering. And it's going
to be a whole [other] era of exploration and scientific research
and, you know, new findings that we can't even imagine. So for me,
even to be a small part of that and say, "Yeah, I went to Hubble;
I was the guy who put the solar arrays on it and allowed them to
get the power and these scientists to make these discoveries."
Or, "I fixed the power transfer box. I did something small.
You know, I'm kind of like, the carpenter kind of guy who goes up
there, or the journeyman, the astronaut." But, I still feel
like I'd be amazed I'll be a part not only…I'm proud to be
a part of NASA but also a part of history as far as I'm concerned
in terms of what the Hubble is and what it has been and what it's
going to be for the next decade.
And that was
a long answer, but, --
-- I thought
about this a lot, and I really do feel that this will be the most
important thing I ever do. So we've got to do a good job!
was a great answer. Good, you guys will do fine. You talked a little
bit about your previous flights. What were those experiences like
on STS-78 and -90? They were some of the longest...
were two of the longest shuttle flights. As a matter of fact, my
first flight was the longest shuttle flight. And then, like, two
flights later, they stay up an extra day because of bad weather
and they beat us. So we were kind of like, we were hoping to hold
that record for a little bit longer. But, I think STS-80 now is,
I believe, is the longest space flight. But, my first flight was
all life sciences. Actually, the first flight had microgravity research
on too. But, I was involved mainly in a lot of the life sciences
experiments. And you know, those life sciences flights, they don't
get the publicity that some of these space station flights do. But,
man, you work hard! Those are…I don't think I'm ever going
to work as hard in terms of the time I put in and the midnight oil
burnt and especially in the second flight, which was STS-90, Neurolab,
because I was the payload commander on that flight, as John is on this flight. And that meant I pretty much ran the whole science
part of the flight, the Spacelab module. And I had three other people
working with me, the payload crew, just three incredible, great
guys. A couple of docs. One physiologist. Smart, smart people. Much
smarter than me. But, we had them along because they helped us all
look good! But we did so much work. We worked, you know, 16-hour
days. We had a bunch of animals on board. We had over 2,000 life
forms on board the shuttle when we launched.
But a lot of
them…we had 1,500 crickets. So you know, little small guys. We had
mice, rats, fish, snails. Different things, and four primates. I
was one of them. And we were as much of the experiment as any of
those other things. As a matter of fact, they experimented on us
more than they did on those guys. So it was a very busy flight.
It was tiring. I remember getting back and just being exhausted!
And not to get off on a tangent, but that's why in certain ways
flying the shuttle is so much different than being on the space
station, because the time schedule and the compression factor in
terms of what you want to get accomplished cannot be accomplished
or kept up for that amount of time when you're on station. So it's
a different schedule. And we would get, -109, those two flights
prepared me very well for what's going to happen on -109. You know,
they were the two longest flights. So I remember the first thing,
this is a little anecdote, the first thing that I thought when I
got up there, after the first day was over on STS-78 was like, "My
God, I've got 16 more days to go! I don't know if I can do this!"
And everyone's drifting around, looking at each other. And I'm like,
"Well, I'm not going to say anything." You know. And some, you don't
feel well the first day. And you're just like, "Oh man!" You've
got a headache and you're, like, "Seventeen more days!" And then,
it's amazing! It's like going from elementary school through college,
and you know how time just seems to go faster and faster as you
get older. Pretty soon two days went by, then it was five days,
then it was six days, then it was nine, ten days. And I'm like,
"Where did all the time go?" And then, pretty soon it was, like,
"Well, if I can do this for ten days, I can stay up here for another
ten or twenty days no problem!" So your whole attitude changes in
terms of, and by the time it was time to come home, I didn't want
to come home. I was perfectly happy to stay up there another two
weeks. Unfortunately, the shuttle can't stay up that long, so we
did end up coming home. But just great experiences. As I said, you
know, any flight is a good space flight. And my two life sciences
flights were really good for me because that's what I'm here for.
I'm a life scientist. But of course, the opportunity to get out
and do an EVA like every mission specialist wants to do when they
get here is something that it's always been in the back of my head,
like was to apply to NASA when I was in, just doing veterinary medicine.
And so I kind of look at this as a next level up for me, and I'm
looking forward to it.
that going to be like? Your first translation out into space?
Well, I keep
wondering about that myself. I have these nightmares. It's like
I just keep telling John, I go, "John, whatever you do, don't let me float away!" So the big thing is, your proper tether
protocol, making sure you're always tethered, and of course, you
don't want to make a mistake, and you want to remember everything.
And you have all this going through your head. And I think ultimately
what it's going to come down to is I'm just going to kind of go
into the memories I have from the training and just let myself go
and take it slow and enjoy myself. So I'm really wondering what
it's going to be like for me when that hatch comes open the first
time, you know. You're in the airlock in your vacuum. But, when
the hatch comes open and you look out, you're like, it's like, "Hey,
it's there!" you know. And you're going to go out. And I'm
sure, you know, everyone says, "Oh, it's no big deal. You know,
whatever. It's like I just do my job." But I know when I go
out there it's going to be like, I'm just going to be, I know, I'm
going to take a couple of seconds and just kind of stare and enjoy
it. And then get to work.
great. Okay, let's talk about the mission now.
you give a brief overview of the goals of the mission, and just
a little background about how achieving each--
those goals will help?
is the fourth servicing mission. And as you know, you know when
Hubble was launched, there was a problem with the main optics; and
the first mission dealt mainly with the correcting those optics
and doing some other adjustments and upgrades. And then, several
missions after that, John was, like I said, on the last mission. And a lot of the training that we're, a lot of the planned things
that we're doing on this mission actually in some cases were thought
that maybe they were going to be done on the last mission. But things
change in terms of launch schedules, priorities, timelines, and
what can be done because of certain problems, say, with launching
later over, and waiting, waiting, waiting, and you have launch delays.
And then maybe you don't launch in the right window so you lose
prop. And so the guys on the last mission actually lost at least
one EVA. And they ended up not doing, they did three EVAs. And they
were going to do an extra one, maybe doing even another one if they
had the time. And it just didn't work out. So I won't say we're
lucky. But a lot of the things that were planned earlier on are
now on our mission. So we actually have five scheduled EVAs, and
there's a chance we might actually do a sixth EVA, which really
has never been done before, a sixth EVA, six EVAs in a row. And
of course, John and I will go out on alternate days. Jim (excuse me) and Mike in the middle; they'll do two, we'll do three; we'll
do it 1, 3, and 5; they'll do 2 and 4. And the first EVA is going
to…the first two actually, mainly is meant to just replace
the solar arrays on Hubble. And they've already been replaced once.
But these are a new design. And they're actually kind of similar
to an iridium solar array, the iridium satellite system, in that
they're rigid arrays. I think a lot of people are used to [seeing]
the arrays on Hubble kind of flapping around, those pretty kind
of gossamer gold arrays. Those were built by ESA (the European Space
Agency) and they're flexible arrays. These are actually two hinged
panels that'll fold out. They're about…they're quite a bit
smaller. They're a lot smaller, they're a bit wider, a lot blunter
than the old arrays. And the cool part about it is they have this
greenish blue glass covering, which, gallium arsenide photocells,
which are going to collect the sunlight and turn it to electricity.
And on one side, they're blank. They're just a big white panel.
And so those arrays are always going to have to have the gallium
arsenide faces pointed to the Sun and the controls on the ground
will do that with Hubble for the…for slew and stuff. But, when
we have replaced these arrays, we're going to increase the capability,
the power capability in Hubble because they're much more efficient
[arrays], by maybe about 20% or so. Twenty percent more power will
be available. And that's a whole lot actually when you think about
it because with the new scientific instruments that are going into
Hubble - the ACS, upgrades to NICMOS to see if the cooling system
works - it's going to need that extra power to look and do the science.
And so the arrays are a very, very big deal. And on day 3, something
that…probably the most crucial, the highest priority in the
mission is ACS, which is Advanced Camera for Surveys. That is the
priority, scientific priority. But yet as you know, if you don't
have gas in your car, it doesn't matter. It's not going to work.
And we have to provide power to all these instruments. And there's
the main Power Control Unit (or PCU) on Hubble [that] actually has
a problem with it. It's a little bit sick. It's got a very small
short between one of the…when it's…internally one of the
diodes. And it's slowly draining to the point where they believe,
over a period of, you know, months, or however much time that it
could get worse or it could degrade the amount of science that's
available, or they may have to discontinue power to certain arrays
within the box, which would, you know, obviously, hurt the science
and certain other boxes that are hooked up to that couldn't be powered.
And right now everything is functioning pretty well. But, they know
there's a problem with this PCU box. So they designed another main
Power Control Unit. It looks just like the old one, almost. There's
a few changes in terms of how the connectors are on. But, this thing
was never meant to be replaced or worked on in space. And it's this
huge black box with rows and rows of about 36 connectors on the
sides and on the bottom. And we will actually have to get in there
with really little clearance. We have to use a special tool that'll
go in and grab the connectors and take them off, because there's
no room for your hands to get in there. And we'll hopefully get
all these connectors off. And then, we'll replace the box. John will put the new one in. And after I disconnect, he will reconnect
all the connectors. And the scary part about this is that the Hubble
power is going to have to be turned off. So this pretty much means
it's like there's a big on-off switch, and the power has never been
turned off before on Hubble. I mean, it will be like turning the
light switch off your main switch box in your house. It's just dead.
And we had a special…caps and the batteries, different things
to prevent shorts for live batteries that aren't connected in line;
things like that. But the main Hubble instruments and the core of
the instrument will be powerless. And we don't know if, when we
turn the switch, that the, you know, we think it's going to be fine.
But, you could always think of a scenario where there's some relay
that doesn't flip back the way it needs to or something goes wrong;
and we could put this in, turn the power back on, and it still doesn't
work! And we don't think that's going to happen because the engineers
did a great job. And it's redundant, redundant, redundant. They've
built in level upon level of, you know, failure modes where they
can work around things. But, we're hoping that once we get the new
box in, flip the power on, boom! It's energized and everything works.
And if that is the case, then it's great. Then, we put ACS in, and
then the last day, Jim and Mike will put ACS in, which is the big
scientific instrument on the flight. As I said, ten times more scientific-gathering,
light-gathering capability imaging. And the last day, there's an
instrument called NICMOS, which is an infrared camera, similar in
some ways, I guess, it just looks at different wavelengths of light.
And when they launched that, there was a special cooling unit that
launched with it to keep it, basically you need it to be a certain
temperature to image the infrared that hits the screen. If it's
too hot, it interferes with the infrared imaging. And there is a
block of liquid nitrogen. And it's sublimated. There was, apparently,
a leak or a little bit more sublimation than they thought. They
initially extrapolated out, and it's gone. So they can't use the
instrument. So some really, really smart guys at Goddard figured
out a way to use a noble gas; it's at cryogenic temperatures, and
pump this gas in (neon) and actually cool the whole instrument down
using this giant radiator, which is going to be mounted on the outside
of Hubble. So we're actually changing the whole look of Hubble!
MS-3, what's your primary responsibility on the mission?
Well, my prime
responsibility for Hubble will be EV-2, which is extravehicular-2
with John. I'm part of that first EVA team that'll go out, as I said, on days 1, 3, and 5 and do those…do the solar array,
the PCU, and the NICMOS, the NCC. I have other, everybody has other,
you know, additional duties. On day 4 when Mike and Jim are out,
I'll be the prime IV; I'll be the one that leads them in terms of
talking with them and basically be the coach inside. We call it
"IV," but it's basically a guy who's the coach or lady
who's the coach and talks to these people, and runs them through
the whole game plan while they're outside. And that's what I'll
do. John will be that on day 2, and Jim and Mike will alternate as they come in when we're out there for our EVAs. So my prime duty's,
as I look at it, is just learning the EVAs as best as I can, the
equipment, and what Hubble is about. And then I have internal duties
of the shuttle. I help with photo, TV. I'll be the entry MS, so
I'll sit up on the flight deck in entry and be part of the flight
crew as they come in and do the crosschecks with the MS-2 and make
sure systems are looking good so we land the way we should. And
we train for all this. It… always seems like there's a million
things we need to do and there's never enough time to study for
them. But for me in this mission, the EVAs are the thing. I mean,
if I make a mistake with the Pentax inside or I forget to put a
roll of…a tape in the VCR or something like that, that's bad.
But, I'll recover from that. I won't, but the EVAs are what I'm
spending all my time on. And as I see, the most important thing
in the mission because that's why we're going up there: to fix Hubble.
And if we don't, then, you know, we can't say we were successful.
you take us through what will happen for rendezvous and grapple,
what you'll be doing for that event?
Yeah. I'm part
of the rendezvous team. It's going to be a very, very crowded flight
deck, you can imagine! With everybody looking out through those
two small windows, watching Hubble come up, and then flying the
orbiter up to it. Scott Altman, "Scooter," the CDR, he'll
be doing all the flying to get us up to Hubble. But on the first,
well, the rendezvous, actually flying up to Hubble and making sure
it's in the right orientation, and then aligning the shuttle with
its bays so it's exactly right for Hubble to come up and basically
Hubble will be here, and then the arm will come up. Nancy will take
the arm, place it on Hubble, grapple it, and bring it right down
in the bay of the orbiter so it's standing straight in the end of
the bay. My job, during that day, during the rendezvous day, before
we grapple, will be to use the handheld radar, the lidar. Actually
I'll be taking shots off Hubble, and in addition to the radar that
the Ku-band provides on the shuttle, imaging Hubble, I will be using
a handheld unit not unlike what they get you with on the highways
when you're speeding. The same kind of unit. And I will back up
calls with the computer and the radar to make sure that we have,
you know, I guess an extra level of redundancy, which will be me.
So I'll be trying to stay out of the way but working on some computers
and taking readings with this radar, handheld radar unit, up until…close
to the point when Nancy's ready to grapple. At that point, I'll
get out of the way; and then I'm going to try and photo-document
the grapple, take pictures of the interior of the crew, and do some
cleanups in the computer specs and whatever people need me to do.
But the main thing for me that day is, on the rendezvous, is helping
with backup radar. And then, obviously that night it's starting
to get into the suits, pull all of the equipment out, making sure
everything looks good, and then going over the EVA procedures to
get ready for the days coming up, so we can go outside and start
working on Hubble once we have it berthed.
all is wrapped up and you guys are ready to send Hubble back on
its way, you're going to ungrapple it and deploy it. Can you take
us through what you'll be doing for that event?
Well, I won't
be as busy on the deploy. I may, we may have the radar unit out
if there was a problem. But, basically, what's going to happen on
deploy is Nancy, after the scope is rotated the way we want it,
Nancy will take the robot arm, come in, and grapple Hubble. The
locking mechanisms of the latches that hold Hubble in the payload
bay will release, and she will fly Hubble up to a safe position.
And now, there's also a planned maneuver where we will try and reboost
Hubble, which will occur before that, where we actually reboost
the whole telescope up using the shuttle's propellant and then release
it. She'll release it at a certain set Sun angle, so Hubble will
kind of, knows where it is, and then slowly back away, trying not
to put any perturbations in the Hubble of its, by itself, so it's
very still. And then, we slowly back away using very, kind of angled-out
light jets to get away from Hubble so we don't plume the solar arrays
or damage any equipment. And at that point…, depending on what
kind of attitude we're in, maybe a quick fly-around. But probably
more than likely just watching it slowly take off, not take off
but drift away into the distance. And we'd be up there for a bit
more time, getting everything shipshape, powering systems down,
making sure Hubble is acting the way it's supposed to and getting
good confirmation with ground. And then, of course, we have all
the cleanups to do, like getting the payload bay door shut when
it's time for entry, and there's a lot going on for the last couple
of days because we're at that point getting the space suits put
away, getting our entry suits taken out. It's amazing, with the
small amount of space, and the time you have what you have to unpack
and pack. It's kind of like being a kid where, you know, you rip
open all your presents and you get them out, and they came in this,
and they're, it's like the volume is five-fold increase. And you
say, "There's no way I'm ever going to get this back."
But somehow, you get it back where it came out of. And you'd be
amazed at how long that takes sometime to get that. And so there's
a lot of high-end there involved in those last couple of days, getting
everybody ready and getting the orbiter ready for reentry. And so,
hopefully after we have a successful deploy and reboost, Hubble
will be on its way and we'll be able to come back down to another
orbit out of the way and decrease our altitude until we finally,
you know, aero-capture, reenter, and have a safe landing at KSC.
talk a little bit more in depth about the EVAs. Can you take us
through the timeline for EVA 1, where you and John will install the first solar array?
going to try to get out the door early. All the EVAs, we're trying,
we would like to keep around six hours to 6½ hours. We already
know that PCU, just because of the nature of the beast, is going
to be a long EVA. It may take eight hours or longer, we don't, we
are accepting that already just because it's so critical that we
fix it. The first day basically entails, as I said, going out and
replacing the solar array. And what that obviously entails first
off is you've got to take the old one off and stow that, and then
go and get the new one and put it on. And that's really all we're
doing. So we're going to maneuver up on the arm. We will take the
old array off. I'll be on the arm for this whole first EVA; and
I'll be moving around with the arrays and handing them, moving them
up to John, who'll be on the telescope and he'll be putting them in the sockets and tightening up connections, connecting the electrical
conduits. Things of that nature. We've got a few other things that
we're doing that day. The WIFPIC thermal covers protections. [There
are] different things we need to do to get Hubble protected and
ready so we can power it down. Like protecting the Fixed Head Star
Trackers that actually look out and are the guidance system of Hubble.
Very, very delicate machinery. Can't get any debris or anything
in those, in those apertures because that would have dire consequences
for the telescope later on. So we're putting shades on to cover
those. We're putting thermal shields on some of the bays. We're
taking thermal shields off some of the bays, depending on what kind
of heat parameters they want, what temperature they want that internal
bay to be at. The funny part is that, and I didn't know this, is
that, you know, you're in space and you think everything's going
to be, you know, at absolute zero, -200 degrees; and in fact, most
of the equipment inside Hubble operates at about room temperature.
And that amazed me! Because you consider that, you know, it's just
the big hunk of metal, for the most part, and glass and wire floating
out in space, it should be very cold. But, one of the things that
you don't have up there is convection; it's much harder to get rid
of heat, because it's just radiative, and that's the only way to
lose it. And so, you know, the same thing with the shuttle. You
would think that it's going to be really hard to stay warm. But
in fact, it's more important to get rid of heat, to eject heat and
stay cold. And that's the same with Hubble. So when we do PCU on
the third day, once we get that installed, then we're able to go
back and take off certain thermal shields and remove other things
that we were using to condition the instrument to make sure it stayed
within normal parameters while we're doing all this work to it.
I guess it'd be similar to like putting tarps up on your house to
protect the furniture. When you're done painting, you can take the
tarps down. But there will be a lot of that. And…the other
thing that amazed me is that…sometimes it's just busywork.
It's nothing, you know, scientific instruments, it's great to put
one of those in. But, most of the work involves going back, getting
tools, figuring out how to use a tool, moving around, translating,
getting something on that fits just right, making sure you don't
damage something while you're putting it on, and it's so much technique
and movement and being very careful and very, very definite about
how you move and what you do. And that takes a lot of time. The,
you know, the thing is, the faster you go, the slower you are;…you
know you've heard that before. The faster you go, the less effective
you are and the more chance you're going to damage something. So
we're going to be as efficient as we can be, but we're not going
to rush and we're not going to be any faster than we have to be
to have that margin and be efficient.
trying to jump around here because you've touched on a lot of stuff
were in subsequent questions here. --
the same for PCU. I could almost say the same thing for the other
three, all the other, pretty much, you know, we talked about PCU,
when with the whole PCU pretty much involves just getting that main
power box out after we disconnect the batteries, and then changing
the power box and reconnecting. And then, we have a few cleanup
steps after that, as do Jim and Mike the day before to get ready
for us. And then day 5 will be the cooling system. We talked about
the new radiator, the NCC, the new type of cooling system that'll
help NICMOS, hopefully, image in the infrared. …But the technique
and what you do is pretty much the same. You move around the scope.
You're just really careful. You're definite about what you're doing.
Everything has been choreographed many, many times already in the
pool about this particular piece of equipment. How you're moving
with it. Where you're going with it. How it's going to be installed.
Who you talk to at the right time. How you get the arm to move where
you need it to. And that's what takes the time is the choreography
and kind of the interplay between people and making sure, you know,
all of a sudden you look down and say, "Oh, my foot just…we're
bumping into Hubble. We can't have that!" You know. That never
happens, of course. But, I'm giving you an instance. You always
have to be in the lookout, so you're always at this heightened level
of awareness. And you know, as you know, after a while when you
stay like that for a long period of time, it can be a little draining
after a while. So you don't want to rush things.
the idea behind the breakout strategy plan? And where did that originate
Well, the break,
on the PCU breakout, that's something hopefully we never hear, we
never see. But, you know, well, obviously we want to talk about
it. But what happens is, if for some reason the connectors don't
come off, or we're running because of something that happened early
in the EVA the day before, we're running behind and we only have
so many hours that day in the EVA before, you know, all our consumables
run out, like oxygen, water, things like that. We never get there;
there's always a big margin. But, for safety reasons, we would have
to come in; say, after eight hours max, even if we weren't done;
well, you have to come in. It's time to come in. And so if we knew
like, at six hours that there was no way we were going to get this
done, even up to the maximum time we have left, we'd have to initiate
a breakout plan, which just means you're breaking out away from
the original plan and you're setting it up in a safe configuration
for the next day. Or a safe configuration, say, if there was an
emergency deploy of Hubble and we had to get rid of it that night,
we couldn't go back out, where we could maybe have it in a safe
mode where it wouldn't be damaged. Or maybe even a mode where we
could get minimal science from a few electrical connectors that
would still work. And it all depends on the timing. It all depends
on how things are going. And it would all depend on how far we are
with the connectors' mate or demate in terms of what we have connected.
But there's been many, many scenarios played through. And we've
broken it down to about maybe three main ones now in terms of how
we will connect and what we won't connect, if we did not have time
to finish. And that would always obviously depend, what scenario
we use, on how much time we had when they made the decision what
we needed to do. And as I said, you know, I try, I train it and
I know about it. I try not to think about it because, in my head,
I'm like, "We're going to do it. It's going to go the way we
want it to. And we're going to get all the connectors on, all of
them off, and we're going to get the new box in."
got to have a backup plan.
And you know,
it's nice to be positive. And I'm staying positive. But if for some
reason Hubble's not listening to me and I get up there and something
doesn't turn the way we need it to and I spend, you know, an hour
on five connectors, then we have to start thinking about what's
going to happen the next day. Mike and Jim may have to go out and
finish for us, and then maybe put in ACS, or we might have to put
in ACS. And it may be that we have to rethink our whole schedule
in terms of what we do. We may not get to do some of the EVAs we
thought or put some of the equipment that we thought we would. It
may turn out that some of the prime stuff that we were going to
put on, we don't have time for. But, some of the backup things that
are kind of, I guess, in the bullpen right now, we may take those
out and use that time to put those on because it won't take as long.
So we may actually change the plan depending on how perturbed we
are with the EVA schedule.
you, if you can envision the mission unfolding, what do you see
as the big, which activities are the biggest challenges?
Well, I mean,
not to beat a dead horse, but the EVAs are the biggest challenges.
You know, Nancy Currie is probably one of the best, if not the best
arm operator right now. She was on the original station flight.
She put the first module of the space station in space. And she's
had a lot of arm experience. And so I mean, for her, you know, I'm
not trying to make her nervous or anything, but for her this is,
I think it's a walk in the park for her. She's just that good. So
if we get up there, obviously, and there's a problem with the rendezvous,
then that would hurt us. But, I don't hopefully foresee that because
once we can get to Hubble, we will grapple it and get it in the
bay. Some other things have to happen, like the latches have to
work; and if we had a latch problem, we'd have to deal with that.
But seeing that everything works the way it normally should, and
the rendezvous goes well, good grapple, we have it in the bay, then
obviously the big thing then is getting the EVAs off on a good schedule.
Starting early, if we can, and keeping them going to stay on that
timeline. Because if we fall behind the timeline, it all cascades
as a snowball effect.
we don't get done that day, we literally, this is a very, very kind
of ambitious mission in terms of the EVAs. So we do not have, I
guess we'd call it, a lot of slop in the timeline. So if we don't
get something done, there's just probably not much chance that day
that we're going to get it done. And it will fall into the next
day and the next day. And we have a little bit of give in the schedule,
you know. And perhaps we'll stay a little bit longer. But, overall,
you know, it would be the timeline schedule to stay on it as much
as possible. And of course, you know, that only is controlled insofar
as that is, is how well we do. But, if we have a problem with Hubble,
there's no way around it. Like a mechanical problem or something
just won't turn or a connector's frozen or something like that.
Then, you know, all bets are off and we have to come up with a plan
on the fly and figure out how we're going to work that. And that's
maybe where a breakout scenario would come in.