STS-109, Mission Control Center
Status Report #17
Friday, March 8, 2002 - 10:30 p.m. CST

Columbia's crew is preparing to bid a rejuvenated Hubble Space Telescope farewell following five days of spacewalks that have updated and enhanced the world's greatest observatory.

The crew completed five spacewalks on consecutive days, installing equipment that will give the telescope more energy, a new electronic "heart," and a camera more powerful than ever before. Columbia will release Hubble at about 4 a.m. CST Saturday, firing its engines soon after to separate the vicinity.

Commander Scott Altman, Pilot Duane Carey and mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Nancy Currie, Rick Linnehan, Jim Newman and Mike Massimino aboard Columbia were awakened at 9:52 p.m. CST by “Who Made Who” by AC DC. The song was played for Carey.

Activities in preparation for Hubble's release will begin about 12:52 a.m. CST when Currie grips a fixture on the telescope with Columbia's robotic arm. The latches that have held the telescope to a special support structure in the shuttle's payload bay will be released at about 2:04 a.m. CST. Currie will then lift the telescope above the cargo bay to a position poised for release. Several systems checks will follow as ground controllers at the Space Telescope Operations Center, Greenbelt, Md., prepare the observatory to again fly free before it is finally released by the shuttle.

After separating from the telescope, Columbia's crew will take a break from duties at 7:03 a.m. CST to participate in interviews by the NBC Weekend Today Show, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Minn., and CNN.

The crew will begin a sleep period at 11:52 a.m. CST Saturday. The next mission status report will be issued Saturday afternoon, or as events warrant.

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