STS-103 Day 6 Highlights
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- On Saturday, December 25, 1999, 10:00 a.m. CST, STS-103 MCC Status Report # 12
- Christmas Day onboard the Shuttle Discovery began with seasons
greetings for Commander Curt Brown, as the crew awoke to Bing Crosby's
"I'll Be Home for Christmas."
- "Merry Christmas to all of you down there," replied Brown. "And
Hubble will be home for Christmas 'cause today we're going to set her
- Discovery's astronauts will be doing the gift-giving this afternoon
as they return the Hubble Space Telescope to orbit, allowing it to
continue its astronomical observations. About 1:45 p.m. CST, European
Space Agency astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy will use Discovery's
robot arm to firmly grasp the telescope. After a series of commands to
disconnect from external power and confirm Hubble is ready for
release, Clervoy will gently lift it out of the support structure in
Discovery's payload bay where it has rested since he first plucked it
from orbit on December 21. The telescope's aperture door will be
commanded open and at 4:50 p.m., Clervoy will release the upgraded
- Hubble's capabilities were enhanced over the course of three
spacewalks, lasting a combined total of 24 hours, 33
minutes. Spacewalking astronauts Steve Smith, John Grunsfeld, Mike
Foale and Claude Nicollier installed six new gyroscopes, six
Voltage/Temperature Improvement Kits, a new more efficient computer,
and a refurbished Fine Guidance Sensor. Functional checks and tests of
the hardware indicate that the new equipment is working properly and
will further enhance the Hubble's scientific capabilities.
- This afternoon, the spacewalking team, including arm operator
Clervoy, will take a break from their duties to discuss the progress
of the mission so far in a series of interviews with CNN, the
Associated Press and the Fox News Network. That interview is scheduled
for 7:12 p.m. today.
- Discovery is in an orbit with a high point of 380 miles and a low
point of 363 miles with all systems on board performing well.
- On Saturday, December 25, 1999, 8:00 p.m. CST, STS-103 MCC Status Report # 13
- Discovery's astronauts delivered a Christmas present to the world
today, putting the Hubble Space Telescope back in service after 24
hours and 33 minutes of repairs and upgrades that make the orbital
observatory more capable than ever.
- European Space Agency Astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy used the
shuttle's robot arm to gently release the telescope at 5:03 p.m. CST,
then placed the arm into an upright salute as Commander Curt Brown
fired Discovery's steering jets to begin separating from the
- The telescope's re-deployment took place at an altitude of 370
statute miles as the two spacecraft flew over the South Pacific's
Coral Sea northeast of Australia, its aperture door opened to the
heavens before the release.
- By 5:30 p.m. CST, controllers at the Space Telescope Operations
Control Center in Maryland were reporting that the telescope was in
normal operating mode. Controllers will perform two weeks of testing
before resuming observations with the telescope.
- "The HST is now orbiting freely once again and is in fantastic
shape," Hubble Space Telescope Program Manager John Campbell said
after the release. "The spacecraft is being guided by its new gyros,
under the control of its brand new computer. The Hubble team is very
grateful to the Discovery crew, to the launch and flight teams and to
all those who made this mission so successful. We especially thank the
families of the entire STS-103 team, who made so many personal
sacrifices at this holiday season, enabling the Hubble Space Telescope
to resume its voyage of discovery."
- At 5:39 p.m. CST, Brown executed a second steering jet burn,
lowering Dicovery's orbit slightly, so that it would begin orbiting
faster than the telescope and move away at just under 6 statute miles
per orbit. Afterward, each of the seven astronauts on board called
down holiday wishes from space in several languages.
- "The familiar Christmas story reminds us that for millennia, people
of many faiths and cultures have looked to the skies and studied the
stars and planets in their search for a deeper understanding of life
and for greater wisdom," radioed Brown. "We, the Discovery crew and
this mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, are very proud to be part
of this ongoing search beyond ourselves. We hope and trust that the
lessons the universe has to teach us will speak to the yearning that
we know is in human hearts everywhere -- the yearning for peace on
Earth, good will among all the human family. As we stand at the
threshold of a new millennium, we send you all our greetings."
- Over the course of three space walks, Astronauts Steve Smith, John
Grunsfeld, Mike Foale and Claude Nicollier installed six new
gyroscopes, six Voltage/Temperature Improvement Kits, a new more
efficient computer, and a refurbished Fine Guidance Sensor. Functional
checks and tests of the hardware indicate that the new equipment is
- The space-walking team, including arm operator Clervoy,
also took a break from their duties to discuss the progress of the
mission so far in a series of interviews with CNN, the Associated
Press and the Fox News Network.
- The crew is scheduled to go to bed just before midnight Central time
and wake up at 7:50 a.m. Sunday to begin a day of preparations for
Monday's landing. Discovery is in a 363 by 380 statute mile orbit with
all systems on board performing well.
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