STS-103 Day 1 Highlights
Return to STS-103 Mission Summary
- On Sunday, December 19, 1999, 8:00 p.m. CST, STS-103 MCC Status Report # 01
- In the final launch attempt available this year, Discovery and its
seven astronauts blasted off tonight on the last human space flight of
the 20th century to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope.
- Under clear and starry skies at the Kennedy Space Center. Discovery
lifted off on time at 6:50 p.m. Central time, lighting up the Central
Florida coastline, to send Commander Curt Brown, Pilot Scott Kelly,
and Mission Specialists Steve Smith, Jean-Francois Clervoy, John
Grunsfeld, Mike Foale and Claude Nicollier on a two-day chase to catch
up to and retrieve the 12 and a half ton telescope. Hubble was sailing
over Eastern Africa at the time of launch.
- Eight and a half minutes after the third and final shuttle launch of
the year, Discovery was in orbit as its crew members began to
configure shuttle systems for the planned 8-day mission. One
rendezvous burn of the reaction control system jets is planned before
the crew goes to sleep early Monday to fine tune Discovery's path to
catch up to Hubble.
- Technically, Hubble has been in hibernation since the loss of a fourth
gyroscope on November 13 designed to enable the telescope to point
precisely at distant astronomical targets for scientific
observations. Hubble is in what is known as "safe mode", a
state of dormancy in which the telescope aims itself constantly at the
sun to provide electrical power to its systems. Hubble is scheduled to
be captured by Discovery's robot arm around 6:40 p.m. Central time
- Once the crew retrieves Hubble, it will be parked at the rear of
Discovery's cargo bay so that two teams of space-walking astronauts
can perform repairs and upgrades to its systems during three nights of
space walks. The most vital of the space walks will occur on Wednesday
night, when Smith and Grunsfeld replace all six of Hubble's gyroscopes
and install devices to improve voltage regulation to the telescope's
systems. Only three space walks are planned because the mission was
shortened. Smith and Grunsfeld will conduct the first and third space
walks, while the second will be conducted by Foale and Nicollier.
- If all goes as planned, Hubble will be released back into orbit on
Christmas Day around 5 p.m. Central time, with landing planned on
Dec. 27 at 4:24 p.m.. Central time at the Kennedy Space Center.
- The astronauts are scheduled to begin an eight-hour sleep period at
1:50 a.m. Central time Monday and will be awakened at 9:50
a.m. Central time to begin their first full day in orbit.
- Discovery is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 300 nautical
miles, completing one orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes.
- The next STS-103 mission status report will be issued shortly after
crew wakeup Monday morning.
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