SM4 / STS-125
Mission Update Page
My personal log on this mission
May 19 2009 - Flight Day
8 (FGS, Battery, NOBLs)
Today is the last EVA (space walk) day. We installed a new
Guidance Sensor (FGS), the second new Battery, and several door
blankets (NOBLs). I did not work on any of these items.
The FGS is used to lock Hubble onto a target. Whenever a
observation is scheduled, two guide stars are selected near the
target. These are bright single stars with known
When Hubble is moved to acquire a target, it looks for those bright
stars, and 'locks onto' them. It then directs its attitude
control system to keep those stars in precise view. If they
should appear to move, the control system moves the vehicle to keep
them in the same spot. This is one of the reasons Hubble is
stable. There are three FGSes on Hubble, and two have been
replaced (one is still original). Installation of the new
encountered the same problem as WFC3: the old bolt did not want to
release (seems to be a common problem), but it was handled the same
way, and no further problems occurred. The new one passed all
The NOBLs are new blankets for the small doors on Hubble. The
insulation has deteriorated due so many years of sun exposure, and this
impacts the electronics inside. One of these doors holds the
transmitter to the ground. If this overheats, we would have a
problem. Currently, we manage this by turning the transmitter
and off. With all the new instruments, it would be a shame
get the images down to the ground, so a new blanket was
essential. Our lead spacewalker, John Grunsfeld, knows this,
you could tell in last night's conference with the Flight Director, how
driven he was to install all three NOBLs. We felt great when
hearing the determination in his voice.
To cut to the ending....today's space walk went extremely
It took John and Drew only 4 1/2 hrs to finish the two main
tasks. They were then able to install all three new
blankets. We had always planned on installing only one this
day. But their hard work allowed us to do all
doing all this benefit to Hubble, John had a small accident just prior
to coming back inside. He knocked the very tip off the
communications antenna this is underneath Hubble. This was no
deal, but they installed a protective cover that we fly just for this
eventuality. While John was coming back in, he said "Sorry
Hubble". I get emotional just thinking about this.
done so much for Hubble, and I hope he won't beat himself up over
this. We all know how much Hubble means to John, being the
astronomer-astronaut to work on her.
Another account of this antenna event is here:
Tonight we had a few short social events in our control room at mission
control. The wives of some of the astronaut crew came in and
presented us with a cake in the shape of Hubble. It was nice
sharing it with them. We also had the traditional group photo
our control room, and I had the privilege of holding the model of
Hubble in the picture. I will have pictures of this on my
Tomorrow we will release Hubble, and say goodbye to her for the last
time. I will probably stay an extra long shift to witness
that. With that, this will be my final update of
have enjoyed writing them for you, and I really hope you have enjoyed
reading them. I am pretty tired of these shifts, and ready to
home, but I know that after a few days there, I will look back at this
whole mission, and realize how much I wish I could do it again.
I won't miss:
- the long hours
- travel away from home
But I will miss:
- coming to work and seeing the Shuttle everyday on the drive in.
- the excitement I felt these past few months and during my time at KSC.
- having the badging to be able to go into the Orbiter any time I
- having lunch or dinner with my work buddies every day.
- the quiet times at Mission Control when I can write these notes.
- the busy times at Mission Control when I am trying to solve 2, 3
problems and listening to the loops at the same time.
I look forward to our meeting in the coming months. All the
This and past updates here:
Sent: May 18, 2009 -
Flight Day 7 (STIS Repair)
Today we performed the repair of the Space Telescope Imaging
Spectrograph (STIS). I did not work on this
were also intending to install a replacement shell on one of the small
doors. These are called NOBLs ("nobels").
Yesterday, we repaired ACS, which included the removal of 32 little
screws. Well today, we repaired STIS. Doing that
the removal of 111 screws of three types! Doing these repairs
were considered a crazy idea when these instruments failed, but we
gradually found that "yes" we can do this little job, then that little
job, and before you knew it, we realized we could do the whole thing.
But before we could got to the lid, we had to remove a handle bar on
the outside shell of the instrument. Recall that this science
instrument was never intended to be repaired in space. Well
crew removed three of the four screws, but....the fourth one was
damaged, and would not turn! After one and a half hours of
various things, the crew considered just pulling the bar off, and
breaking the screw. By then, several of our colleques had
replicated this condition on the ground in one of our machine shops and
found that it took 60 lbs of pull force to snap the bolt by pulling the
long handle. Here in Houston, we saw the video of the guys
this back home in Maryland, and saw the spectacular result of the bar
flying around the machine shop once it was loose. We all
if crew safety would let us do it.
We had Mike Massimino doing the task (nicknamed "Mass"). He
very tall and strong guy, so he was up to the task.
Unfortunately, we did not have a video link, so we never got the
video. He pulled the handle off, and we were able to
proceed. That was another one of those unbelievable moments
this mission were they just did what had to be done. He then
placed a special plate on top of the cover of the instrument.
This plate is extra thick with little Lexan compartments. A
tool can be used to loosen the screws of the lid, but they would be
captured in this Lexan shell.
Once all those screws and the lid was removed, Mass brought it close to
his helmet camera, and it was breathtaking to see all those little
screws and washers floating around in each of their little Lexan
cells. They looked like little fish swimming around in their
little bowls. Ordinarily such a sight in space would be a
nightmare were it not for them being contained. One of my
coworkers describes it best. He said that they looked like a
bunch of angry bees. OMG, if they ever got out!
Here is another account of this event: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts125/090517fd7/index3.html
In a previous update, I described the voice 'loops' that we use to
communicate with each other. The most exclusive of these is
or Air-to-Ground. This is what Houston uses to talk to the
in space. The only person that is normally permitted to talk
the ground is called "Capcom" (captain of communications).
person is always an astronaut. He represents the crew's
on the ground, and he sits right next to the Flight Director ("Flight"
from Apollo 13). Any of us is allowed to listen to monitor
loop. Well tonight, we were privy to an unusual
Flight talked directly to the astronaut crew in a strategy session for
tomorrow, the final space walk day at Hubble. It was a very
candid talk, and we felt the great relationship they have with each
So far, all of our space walks have been very successful. It
testament to my coworkers that all the hardware has electrically and
mechanically fit and functioned without problems. Of course,
astronaut crew deserves credit too, but there are thousands of unseen
people on the ground that designed, built, tested and prepared the
hardware over the course of years to get to this point. We
have two amazing imaging instruments, half a set of new batteries, new
gyros, a new spectrograph, and other smaller items installed and
tested. Soon (tonight) we will find out about the second
spectrograph repaired today. Hubble is already the most
it has ever, ever been, and we have one more day to go.
This and past updates here:
2009 - End of Flight Day 6
(Installation of COS and ACS-R)
Today went extraordinarily well. We installed the Cosmic
Spectograph (COS) and performed the first ever repair of a Science
Instrument in space. I worked on the latter item.
Other than the dazzling pictures that cameras such as WFC3 and ACS
produce, a second type of science instrument analyzes the spectrum of
light (or color) that is produced by an astronomical target.
Color is very useful for the science aspect as it can tell us the
distance to an object (by the red shift), the makeup of a star (by the
spectral lines), and other nitty gritty details. COS is the
spectrograph that was installed today that will perform those functions
on a world-class level.
The companion imaging camera to WFC3 is Advanced Camera for
Surveys. While WFC3 is used to make detailed images, ACS is
to cover wide patches of sky for surveys. This camera stopped
working last year, and NASA decided to try and repair it in
space. This involves cutting open its lid, removing 32
removing an internal cover, removing four circuit boards, and
installing a new circuit board module. One part of this new
module is a custom chip that I designed for this system. It
essentially 'joins' the old circuitry in the existing science
instrument with the new part that we are adding.
As I mentioned before, such a daring set of operations have never been
performed before in space. One big problem is the 32 screws
washers that hold the lid. It would be very dangerous to have
small metal parts floating around in Hubble. My team mates
figured out a clever system of lifting the lid along with all the
screws in a combined assembly. They also developed a new
tool that is the equivalent of a small power drill that is used to
remove the screws. As I watched today, I was simply amazed at
smoothly it went. It was so strange seeing circuit boards
removed by astronauts. They usually never handle components
We spent the evening running tests on the two instruments, and so far
it is looking good. We did have one problem on ACS, and I had
go work that one, but we were able to resolve it, and the tests have
resumed. We will not complete all the tests until my shift
Speaking of shifts, these twelve hour stints are not easy, and I am
starting to look forward to when Hubble is released. I will
glad to go home then.
Another account of this repair:
This and past updates here:
2009 - End of Flight Day 5
(Installation of RSUs and Battery 1)
On this day we installed new gyros and the first of two
Batteries. I worked on neither of these items, but of course
still have a big stake in their success.
The first item was the three new gyro modules. Each are the
design as the mechanical ones from the 70s, and they are STILL the best
you can make today. Not even fancy laser ring gyros that have
been built since then come close to their performance for sensitivity
and low noise. The gyros are so good that they allow Hubble
point to the accuracy of a dime that has been placed on the Empire
State Building in New York City when viewed from a building in Los
Angeles. Since Hubble can stare so steadily, it can perform
long exposures. We are all familiar with our digital cameras
today. They commonly perform exposures as long as a 1/60 of a
second. Any longer, and the photo may blur because the image
the camera chip will move around. Well Hubble can perform
exposures lasting hours and hours, even days. During this
the light of the star needs to hit the same pixel every time, or there
will be blurring. Doing these ultra long exposures helps to
the ultra faint and distant formations that Hubble is so famous for.
The second item is one of two new battery modules. The
on Hubble are the original ones, and they have been in space for 18
years now. They are the longest lasting batteries of their
in space. We are replacing them of the same type of
which is Nickel-Hydrogen. Hubble takes about 90 minutes to go
around the Earth. Of this time, it spends 30 minutes in its
shadow. During this time, it runs on these
life of any battery is measured in terms of their charge and discharge
cycles, and these have seen over 100,000 cycles by now. They
served us well, and it is time to change them.
Just as the day before, the installation of the gyros encountered a
problem. One of the modules did not fit into its intended
location. However, we brought four along (one
funny story is that this spare has flown on every mission, but it has
never gotten installed (the spare has never been needed). We
effectionately call this one our "Hangar Queen". It now
gets to be the bride after being the bridesmaid for so many
missions. The one that did not fit, serial number
historically had the best performance. The astronaut crew
nicknamed it "double-0-7" (aka James Bond) for that reason.
now gets to come back home and spend the rest of time in the
Another problem came up in closing the big main doors to Hubble, but
they finally figured it out, and got them closed. These
very important function is to seal out the light, and to give the outer
skin structural integrity. After that task, the battery task
Normally, the two spacewalkers spend six and one half hours
outside. However, due to the previously mentioned problems,
spent seven and a half hours outside. To not impact the
time, our Commander Scott Altman (nicknamed Scooter) decided to
lengthen the day to 25 hours. The ability to do this is is a
artifact of going around the Earth 16 times a day. One's
need not observe sunrise or sunset. The day's length is kind
arbitrary. They will simply be getting up an hour later than
originally planned. The impact to us is that our shift needs
work one hour longer, and our shift times shift later by one
hour. At some point we may undo this change before the end of
Tomorrow will be a historic day. We will attempt and complete
first ever repair of a science camera in space. It will
opening up one of the cameras (called ACS), even cutting its removing
some circuit boards, and inserting new ones. One of these
has a central controller chip that I custom designed for this
repair. Once this camera is repaired, it will form a mighty
with WFC3 (installed last night). The two cameras compliment
other, and together will provide for unmatched science gathering
Time to catch up on e-mails. Thanks for sending them to me!
Video of astronauts installing WFC3:
This and past updates here:
2009 - End of Flight Day 4 (Installation of WFC3 and
Today we had our first day with spacewalks. EVA Day 1
(Extra-Vehicular Activity Day 1). On this day, we installed
WFC3 stands for Wide Field Camera 3. It will be the next
imaging instrument for Hubble. Compared to the one it is
replacing (which has only about 2.5Megapixels), the new camera will
have 16Megapixels. More importantly, it can see a wider range
colors, from infrared to ultraviolet. It will be like opening
eyes for the first time to colors and details we have never
This instrument has been in the making for more than 8 years.
The SIC&DH is the science data computer that failed last year,
caused the delay in the mission. At the time, we switched to
backup unit that had been in space for 18 years waiting for its
turn. However, NASA management decided we would not risk
failure that would render Hubble completely useless as a science
I happen to be Electrical Lead on both of these items, and they were on
the first EVA day due to their priority. WFC3 was
Well, it did not go smoothly. We had major problems getting
old instrument (WFPC2) out. To remove the instrument, the
astronauts needed to turn one bolt. Well it did not turn at
all! They kept having to change tools to apply more and more
torque. It got to the point where they could snap the bolt in
half by applying more than 50 ft-lbs of torque. If that
we would never be able to remove the old instrument to put in the new
one. This was extremely harrowing (to say the
Due to my shift schedule, I watched this all unfold in my hotel
room. I had access to the live TV from space, and was
communicated with my team mates via a chat program. While
was all unfolding, we were all getting very anxious, including
me. When all options were exhausted, and the astronaut
with the big wrench, we were all hoping for the best. When
Fuestel finally turned the bolt, and it turned, we did not know if the
bolt broke or not. He then reported to our relief that he
that it felt like it was turning, and not broken! There was
applause in the control rooms back home in Maryland and in
Prior to that, I could not believe that this was happening.
years of work, and careful planning, a single bolt almost caused it all
to go to waste. So far, our tests of the new camera are
good. The tests will continue through the night.
In looking for images of the installed WFC3, I found some really great
images of the ARUBA box, and put them on my site below:
There is a good account of the words spoken during the WFC3
Rosalie, a reporter from Aruba, found the NASA video with the interview
Here it is:
She is at 2:13. Interest is high in Aruba, no doubt fed by
individuals such as Rosalie. Thank you!
This and past updates here:
2009 - End of Flight Day 3 (Rendez Vous with Hubble)
This is the end of our third day in space. On this day, we
to Hubble and fastened her into the Cargo Bay of the Shuttle.
This process is called "Rendez Vous". It is a common phrase
I would compare the process of doing this to be similar to boarding a
speeding merry-go-round at a particular horse. Hubble travels
around 18,000 mph to stay in orbit around the earth. Without
speed, any spacecraft would plummet back down to the ground due to the
Earth's gravity. Our task is to arrive at the horse called
Hubble, while minimizing the amount of fuel it takes. We do
want to overshoot Hubble, nor fall short. The more fuel we
the better. To do this, we need to launch at a particular
day, and slowly creep up to Hubble. We do this while firing
rockets on the Shuttle.
Prior to that, Hubble has been prepared to stop its science program,
and told to simply stay very still. Shuttle then arrives and
plucks Hubble out of its orbit using the robot arm, and it is then
fastened to one of the carriers that are inside the Cargo Bay of the
Shuttle. One tricky part is that we need to tell Hubble to
holding still once she is grabbed because once the Shuttle robot arm
moves Hubble around, she will try and counteract that action.
This will cause the two space craft's attitude control system to fight
each other. So once Hubble is grabbed, we quickly command her
Well we have done this four times flawlessly before in past visits, but
this time we had a hickup in the communication system between Hubble
and Shuttle, and we could not tell if Hubble was in free
What followed were some tense moments. Since I worked on the
communication system, I was called into work early. In the
we found the problem, and the entire Rendez Vous was
We now have Hubble back in the bay, and ready for tomorrow's first
space walk. Per the plan, the two highest priorities will be
performed first. They will be the Wide Field Camera 3 (which
spent 8 years building), and the Science Data Computer (which held up
the mission since October, and I worked also). The next day
should be very, very exciting, and I will grab lots of images for my
The rest of tonight we spent surveying Hubble by camera to see if any
damage has occurred on its surface over the past seven years.
is possible to have a hole shot into the outer skin and not know
it. A few flights ago, we were surprised to see a clean round
hole shot into our high-gain antenna (a satelite dish).
By the way, before leaving work yesterday, I found out from a coworker
that he saw my beautiful bride on NASA TV yesterday. She had
interviewed by them at a party before the launch, and the interview
aired on NASA TV. I will try and find it online.
Florida, Agnes and the kids are back home following the
She spoke very eloquently about our excitement at the launch site.
I have enjoyed all your e-mails. Thanks for them!
2009 - End of
Flight Day 2 (Shuttle Checkout)
I arrived at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), and checked into my
hotel. My shift is from 3pm to 3am, so I went to work after
lunch. The Shuttle has not arrived near Hubble yet, so it is
quiet in our control center. There are three Flight Control
here, and this is where NASA personnel monitor the mission from the
ground. These three are named after their color: Red, White
Blue. The Hubble team is assigned the Blue Flight Control
(BFCR). The Shuttle is controlled from the White
one. It is
the one you see on TV all the time. The Red one is used only
Here is a picture of our control room at the bottom of this page:
We work at our consoles, and monitor screens for data and listen on
headsets. The Shuttle data is on the built-in consoles, and
have been trained how to use those in previous training
simulations. The Hubble data is on separate smaller desktops
our laptops. We are used to seeing those from back
also have really big screens in front to see the big map (shows where
Hubble, Shuttle, the comm satelite footprints, day/night line is), and
also another screen that changes depending on what we are
We listen to voice channels called 'loops'. We usually
several loops at once. Although anyone may listen to any
who is allowed to speak on each one follows a strict
For example, the top person in command of the entire mission is the
Flight Director. This position was made famous during Apollo
by Gene Kranz (whom I met him a few years ago). The Flight
Director (abbreviated "Flight") has his own loop, and only the top
level people speak on that one. Monitoring this loop allows
to know what is going on at the highest level. One of the
on this loop is "Payload". He/she represents the hardware
flown that mission. Payload has a loop of his own where his
subordinates use to communicate with him. One of the persons
allowed to talk on this loop is "Servicing Mission Manager".
person is the top Hubble person in the hierarchy. I am part
"Systems", and I use a fourth level loop to communicate with my
To start a conversation, a person says three words. The first
word is the party they want to reach. The second word is who
are themselves, and the third is the name of the loop they want to
use. Of course they do this on a loop that the intended
expected to monitor. This way, a person can listen to several
conversations at once, and just follow them lightly. If they
their call sign mentioned, they can find out who is looking for them,
and which loop to "punch up" to respond. All these
conversations is controlled from the panel with the yellow display in
the image. It sounds complicated, but with training, you can
We install WFC3 on the next shift after me. That should be
2009 - Flight Day 1
It has been 7 years since I saw a Shuttle launch, and it is just
We had a good view from the Causeway, and we were looking straight down
the tail of the Orbiter. We could see the entire stack,
the MLP, and the flame trench.
Upon ignition, you only see the big white cloud of exhaust, but slowly
the Shuttle rises above it. Then, the exhaust flames come
view as a super BRIGHT flash. The crowd erupts with this
with spontaneous emotion and cheering. The Shuttle continues
climb silently and steadily with a bright red rooster tail.
Once the Shuttle is about 40 degrees in elevation, the sound finally
hits you. It is like a raucous, rattle that shakes your
body. From 6 miles away, you can sense its POWER.
engines and the solids shall not be denied.
Unexpectedly, I shed major tears. I will never see my WFC3
instrument again. I feel like a parent sending his child into
world to do its intended thing, never to see it again. I
on this instrument for 8 years. I know every connector,
box, pin and wire tie.
My last Shuttle mission, and I shall miss KSC, the Shuttle, and
everything about it.
Now it is time to go to Houston, and set to work on Hubble. I
will post updates.
Sent: May 9, 2009
It has been several months since my previous launch update in October
2008, and a lot has happened since then.
About two weeks before our previous launch, we had a malfunction on
Hubble in space. The central science instrument computer
failed. Without this unit, we would be unable to do any
observations. The original unit had been operating flawlessly
18 years since the release of Hubble. We switched over to the
backup unit, but conversations started immediately on what to do about
this problem. The NASA Administrator decided that it was not
acceptable to leave Hubble without a backup, and the mission was put on
hold. This decision stunned many at the time (including the
astronauts that would fly, and myself), but it has proven to be the
absolutely correct response now that we can look back on it.
It has been 7 months since then, and we are back at Kennedy on the
doorstep of another launch. In that time, my team members and
have prepared a replacement science data computer that will be
installed by astronauts. I have spent almost two months here by now,
and Agnes and the kids have joined me since last night, as well as a
small film crew with Jan Poets from Aruba. Many of the other
family members are arriving over the next few days, and there will be
many launch parties held and attended during that time. We
all very excited. Launch is on May 11 at 2:01pm.
that, Agnes and the kids travel back to Maryland for school, and I head
to the Johnson Space Center in Texas to provide support during the
This will be our final visit to Hubble, and my final Shuttle
mission. As I have been visiting these facilities here for
final time these past few days, I do so with a sense of bittersweet
happiness. It has been a great privilege to be part of this
and to have access to these facilities, and my team members and I have
enjoyed our work. Many of us cannot help but feel that this
be the highpoint of our careers and our personal experiences.
The attached image shows me inside the crew cabin of the Space Shuttle
Atlantis while she is sitting on Pad 39A ready for launch.
helmet of the space suit is in front of me, and the space suit itself
is on my right.
Sent: October 2, 2008
Last Sunday, I was about to board a plane to fly back to Orlando
to return to the Goddard control center.
An unprecedented failure occurred on Hubble, only two
failure was in the
science data handling computer.
this, we will not lose control of Hubble, but we cannot do any science.
There is a backup unit on Hubble, but that has not been
powered up while Hubble has been in space.
It is our policy to test the hardware rigorously on the
in space, we power up the primary side, and do not switch to the backup
there is a problem.
up on the primary side occurred 18 years ago.
Since then the backup has been dormant.
With only one science handling computer, NASA management at
Head Quarters in DC decided to delay the mission.
was a breathtaking 24 hours.
realized the problem, on Monday
night we knew we were not launching until Spring 09.
I have never seen NASA move so fast.
Administrator of NASA showed his
commitment to long Hubble life by saying that we would not leave Hubble
just one working science computer.
So I will be joining the effort to prepare a new pair of
have a set on the
ground, but they too have not been used in many years.
It will take a lot of effort on our part to
get them ready in just 4 months.
Last night, I met with some coworkers at dinner, and many
knew this was their last night in Florida
until we return for the launch.
was a certain amount of sadness amongst us.
Today, I have one last shift in the Orbiter crew cabin,
on a flight home.
realize what a
it is to work here in the Shuttle crew cabin.
Most NASA employees do not even see the Shuttle up close.
Even fewer are able to
enter the crew
I will enjoy
this final day
Sent: September 2, 2008
The results of my launch poll are in, and at this point,
the numbers in my party have dropped considerably, no doubt due to the
uncertainties of the launch and the situation with the tickets.
At this point, we are down
to 12 people.
are the Dennis family, Lim family, and
the four of us.
have been able to get
Jan Poets a press pass, so he will be at a different site than us.
We have returned home to Maryland
to start school.
is nice to be back in
the normal routine
after so many weeks away.
to see Roland get married, and she took the kids along.
I stayed behind at KSC, and entertained Hurricane
Fay for a few days.
caused the whole
team to be hunkered down in our hotel rooms, and there was some damage
offices at Kennedy.
put some images on
my site to remember her by.
Hurricane Hannah is looking like a threat.
The Shuttle Atlantis was supposed to roll out to the pad
earliest that it will now roll out is this
coming Saturday 9/6.
is a hit of
almost two weeks.
can't help but think
this will delay launch as I doubt they had two weeks of padding in
Officially, the Shuttle planning board will
not meet until 9/22, and that is still three weeks away.
Bottom line is that if you still want to see the
launch... you can.
are organizing a
large group outside just outside the Space Center
and on the
This is not
a bad place to see
the date will most
likely move a few days later.
does, count on the launch being at 10-11pm.
Our launch window to catch Hubble is such that the launch
EARLIER by half an hour, for each day the launch is slipped.
So the launch really moves
in increments of
I return to Kennedy by myself next week to help with the
intend to visit
the Shuttle on the pad then and show you some pictures of that.
Boston.com has a very good page with some excellent
pictures of our launch preps:
I would invite you all to visit it.
really cool images.
you have any
questions about any of them,
also updated my
mission page below.
Sent: August 15, 2008
The Shuttle Requirements Review Board met yesterday and
they decided to not move the launch.
the official date stays on Oct 8, 2008.
Another bit of not-so-good news we received is that our
launch tickets situation is not good.
Hubble Project submitted 4500 requests for launch viewing tickets
inside the Space
However, NASA HQ has
only granted us
This is quite
unexpected as we
have never been restricted on the number of participants.
The best advice I can give you is to wait for the invite
to arrive, and reply if you intend to attend or not as soon as you can.
This will free up
the invite for another
me know also when you
get news on your end.
Sorry for the disapointing news.
managers are busy contacting HQ on the
reason for this decision, so this may get reversed.
On my end, Agnes and the kids are in Aruba
since Saturday, and I am still at KSC packing our camera for
been a real
priviledge working here, and just yesterday we witnessed a test where
moving the aerodynamic surfaces on the Orbiter.
saw the elevons move up and down, and all
the rocket thruster nozzles were moving around.
was quite an impressive sight.
coworkers shot a video, and we will
put it on Youtube soon.
Sent: August 3, 2008
This past week I travelled to the Johnson
is where the
entire team, including those doing mission support at Goddard, those
Johnson, and the astronaut crew in a shuttle simulator perform several
the mission in actual sequence to learn the tools and the
mission, the Hubble
project works two twelve hour
shifts, and mine is during "Planning Shift".
is the time after the astronauts have
done the installations, and during the time we perform tests on the new
assigned to this team to
work out problems and troubleshoot the instruments if the data does not
During the mission we communicate with each other on
channels that we use across the system.
is a tight protocol with each of these loops, and their use is part of
during this training
that Simulator Supervisors throw in problems and anomalies to test the
So we know we
are being closely
watched for our performance.
It turned out that for the duration of this training, Planning Shift
(the shift I am on) was
from 7pm to 7am.
I worked at
We did this
for three days, and
it was quite difficult to stay awake during the quiet periods.
I have been sleeping a lot
since then to catch
The biggest news I have is that launch may be 'to the
left' as we say.
IS 90% CHANCE
THAT LAUNCH WILL MOVE TO 1AM OCTOBER 5, 2008.
This is very favorable for me personally as this is a
and Stephanie can attend without much problems from her school.
I will keep you informed
as soon as this is
official, please feel free to write me for information.
In the social area, we have been enjoying our time here
We have gone as much
as we can to the
Parks, an activity we enjoy, and yesterday we went to see the Blue Man
It was a
fabulous show of music,
received a visit
from aunty Lim, cousin Chee Chong and cousin May and their kids
great seeing them.
this week, we travel to Fort
to see them again, and Aggie and
leave for Aruba
8/9 to witness
stay in Florida
the camera that I have been working
on for the
past 8 years will arrive in Florida
for final tests on the ground, and installation into the Shuttle.
I intend to have some
pictures on my site for
that momentous event.
Finally, today is Christopher's birthday.
is now a big twelve.
This and past launch updates at:
Info on Wide Field Camera III:
Sent: July 18, 2008
Agnes, the kids and I leave for our first family trip to Kennedy
tomorrow. We will be staying there for almost a month, and
they are travelling on to Aruba for a few weeks to attend Roland's
wedding in Aruba. I will stay on in Florida.
We had our last review of the instrument this week, and we passed with
flying colors. It means that Wide Field Camera III, the
instrument that I have been spending most of my time on, is now ready
to ship to the Cape. We are all very excited to get this fun
of the work, where we test the instrument for one last time at the
Kennedy Space Center, and then insert the camera into the Space
Shuttle. I look forward to my daily drive into the center
we see the Space Shuttle on the pad. There is nothing as
thrilling as that for me.
You can continue to call us at our home number at 301-249 5844, but it
will now ring in our hotel room in Florida. My cell number is
518 2330. We will be at the Residence Inn on Astronaut Blvd
Cape Canaveral. I am including hotel information
is for the Holiday Inn. This is the hotel from where the
depart on the day of the launch. This date is still set for
October 8 2008.
Below is the hotel information from our Logistics Manager:
I recently visited various hotels in the Cocoa Beach area to
what kind of group rate or deal we could get. The Holiday Inn
renovated their rooms and they showed me six on Thursday. I
randomly picked a few room to see and they were all very nice “and
clean”. They definitely have the best pool in the area and
property is on the beach and they have a pool bar, lounge and
restaurant. There is no question that there are some newer
nicer hotels at the port but the Holiday Inn is the only property that
can accommodate our launch party of 375 and will let us bring in 20
buses to transport folks to the launch site and they will let us
utilize their lobby to check in for the launch. There is a
and Doubletree within walking distance of the Holiday Inn and they will
let use their restaurant parking area if you’re taking the bus to the
Causeways launch viewing area and staying elsewhere.
As a team effort to make your employees feel at home, we are offering
this package exclusively to your October group:
We are reserving in the name of Hubble Space Center Launch Special
425 rooms per night from October 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 2008
Call the Reservation number: 1-(800)-20-OASIS and ask for the Hubble
Space Center Launch Special (I KNOW—JUST DIDN’T WANT TO CHANGE ANYTHING
AT THIS POINT)
Receive: Standard Room: $105 rate to include (1)
breakfast buffet coupon inclusive of coffee and juice, per room per day.
OTHER ROOMS AVAILABLE AT SPECIAL HUBBLE RATES Oceanfront Suites: $205-
rate to include (1) full breakfast buffet coupon inclusive of coffee
and juice, per room per day.
Standard Oceanfront: $155- rate to include (1) full breakfast buffet
coupon inclusive of coffee and juice, per room per day.
Pool Cabana Rooms: $155- rate to include (1) full breakfast buffet
coupon inclusive of coffee and juice, per room per day.
Kids Suites: $105- rate to include (1) full breakfast buffet coupon
inclusive of coffee and juice, per room per day.
Villas: $205- rate to include (1) full breakfast buffet coupon
inclusive of coffee and juice, per room per day.
Lofts: $205- rate to include (1) full breakfast buffet coupon
inclusive of coffee and juice, per room per day.
As an additional “Welcome”, we would like to offer your guests a drink
with our compliments. (1) Drink coupon will be included in
Sent: June 17, 2008
Preparations for our launch is going well.
8 looks more and more firm now.
I am currently writing this from the Hubble control room,
where we are running a test with the Hubble simulator that is on the
All our new
instruments have been
hooked up to
it, and we are running our commands through the system as if the
have installed all the new hardware.
is our final full-up 'big enchilada' test to make sure everything is
NASA has put together the official mission page of this
coming servicing mission, and it is here:
On there, you can view a short video titled
"Extending Hubble Vision - Packed with power".
video describes the camera I am working
on called Wide Field Camera 3, and I am one of the persons interviewed
This video will be on the front page for a short time,
and will be put into the video library afterwards.
We will be travelling to Florida
for the first phase of integration
with the Shuttle during the time period of July 19 to August 27.
If you find yourself in Florida
or are thinking of a Disney
this year, please let us know and we will be happy to see you.
After that, Stephanie and Christopher have school, so we
will return to Maryland
I will travel to
Kennedy as needed, but
will probably return for the launch starting mid September.
Today is Aggie and Stephanie's birthday.
is out at camp, so we will not see
her until Friday.
cupcakes for her as a surprise.
Sent: April 11, 2008
As I mentioned in my previous note, the External Tank is the pacing
item in our launch schedule, and unofficially, our date has now moved
to October 8, 2008. One website has already published this
It is of course still possible for it to move even later.
On another note, I wish to tell you that Agnes has joined the 2008 Avon
Walk for Breast Cancer. This walk will take place over two
and she will walk a raise money to combat Breast Cancer. Many
you have already helped us by pledging a donation, and we invite you to
consider doing so if you have not already. Here is her site
explains how to participate, and who has participated so far:
Sent: March 25, 2008 2:10 PM
Subject: STS-125 Launch Update
It looks like our launch date will move again. This time, it
move 'to the right'.
As I mentioned in my previous note, the mission to Hubble will not be
able to rely on Space Station as a safe haven. As a result,
will have the unprecedented situation of having two Space Shuttles
ready to launch on both launch pads (yes, just like in the movie
Armageddon). This means that we have double the reasons for
slippage. One such reason has appeared, and it is the
Tank (ET) for the rescue shuttle.
Right now, we are hearing unofficially that our launch will not be
before September 18
best chance is 'third
week of October
So stay tuned, your spots should still be secure, I will update you as
One more item, if you have a better e-mail address for contact
information, please send it to me. I may need to get ahold of
All the very best to you, and I hope to see you in Florida.
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 10:43 AM
Subject: Shuttle Launch Info
I am sending to all of you the information sheet of my launch
I hope you do not mind, as you might as well get to know each
I also received request for information on what it will be like, and
where to stay. Here is some info.
What it will be like on launch day:
If this mission is like past, it will roughly be as follows.
gather about Tee-minus 6 hours in a parking lot of a local hotel in
Cocoa Beach Florida. There will be busses lined up there,
will then board. We will be given an escort into the Kennedy
Center, and dropped off at one of two sites for launch guests.
We need to launch the Shuttle in order to catch Hubble. This
that our time of launch is dependent on which day we launch.
launch time moves about one half hour earlier every day we
will ensure the best propellant margins in order to catch
current launch date is 8/28/08. I do not know the time right
Current information is that our group (HST Project) will fit in the
"Banana Creek" site. This is reserved for VIPs, and we will
closest viewing of any large group. Our view will be from
distance, but still better than anyone can obtain if they were to park
on the Causeway in their automobiles. You are far enough away
the moment of ignition will be very quiet, and you will only see a
bright flash. Only when Shuttle climbs to about a 45 degree
will the sound reach you, and it will be a crackling rumbling sound.
One unusual aspect of our mission is that we will have to have a
second 'rescue' Shuttle ready to go on the other pad. This is
our mission cannot rely on the Space Station as a safe haven in case
there is a problem with the Shuttle Tiles during launch. We
able to see both Shuttles from the launch site.
is a satellite map of the area:
Banana creek is the white area next to the road on the
left. The two
Shuttle launch pads are on the right (big circles).
VAB near the bottom, where the Shuttle is assembled.
Where to stay:
We will be staying in Cocoa Beach, which is about 45 minutes East of
Orlando, and on the Atlantic Ocean. It is South of Kennedy
Center, and I will be driving into it every morning. We will
likely stay at the Residence Inn. However, most of
stay in Orlando, where there are many more attractions, and only come
to Cocoa Beach on the day/morning of the launch.
Due to the delay, school schedules may be impacted. Stephanie
school at August 25th. What we actually decide will depend on
the launch day moves. I will send you more information as
I may need to reach you quickly in the future, so if you have a better
e-mail address, please send it to me.
I hope to see you in Florida for my last Shuttle mission.
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 10:53 AM
Subject: STS-125 Launch information
Another launch update. STS-125, the last servicing mission to
has been moved to August
As I mentioned before, as the mission
draws nearer, I will be needing more specific information from
you would still like to reserve a spot, please send me the full names of
the members in your party, your address, and your
the following information:
If the launch is on 8/28 would you attend?
If the launch slips 2 days, would you attend?
How many days are you willing to stay in Florida
wait for the launch?
These are questions from my management. Remember, you can
change your mind later. I hope many of you will still come
potential impact to school schedules.
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 11:48:36 AM
Subject: STS-125 Launch
STS-122 finally launched a few days ago. As a result, our
August 28 is looking more likely (still officially August 7
first of the preparations for launch guests has started, and we have
asked how many each of us are taking to see the launch. Up
e-mails have been background info only, but now I need to get a sense
number. If you think you may want to go, let me
cancel. However, you will not be able to give me a 'yes'
So far, I have Bing, Wai Yin, and Pooi Foong and their
know by Thursday night if you are or may be going. No need to
write me for
'no go' notifications.
SM4 Mission Pictures Page
(c) Edward Cheung, all rights reserved.