As Columbia's crew completed preparations today for the capture of the Hubble Space Telescope, mission managers confirmed that a degraded shuttle cooling system will pose no problems for Columbia's flight.
Following an extensive analysis, managers determined that, although operating at a lower capacity, the system in question still provides sufficient cooling for shuttle equipment and Columbia can proceed with the capture and rejuvenation of the Hubble Space Telescope. Today, the STS-109 crew – Commander Scott Altman, Pilot Duane Carey, and Mission Specialists Nancy Currie, Jim Newman, Rick Linnehan, John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino – prepared for Sunday morning’s planned rendezvous and capture of the orbiting observatory.
Altman, Carey and Currie checked out the various tools that will be used during the final phases of tomorrow’s rendezvous activities and performed another in a series of burns designed to refine Columbia’s approach to the telescope. The two space walking pairs, Grunsfeld and Linnehan, and Massimino and Newman, began a checkout of the spacesuits they will wear over the course of five scheduled space walks and configured the airlock in readiness for the first spacewalk early Monday morning.
Currie, who will operate the shuttle’s robotic arm to capture the telescope and maneuver astronauts during the spacewalks, powered up the 50-foot long arm today, finding it in good condition.
The final phases of the rendezvous will begin about 1 a.m. Sunday as Altman closes in on the telescope. Nancy Currie is planned to capture the telescope at 3:14 a.m. Sunday using the robotic arm. At that time, the two spacecraft will be over the Pacific Ocean, just east of Australia.
The next STS-109 mission status report will be issued Saturday evening, or as events warrant.
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