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Columbia Begins Third Decade With Mission Thursday To Hubble
STS-001 Desktop 800 x 600
STS-001 - Apr 12, 1981 at 7am EST
  • Desktop available 800x600
  • Cape Canaveral - Feb 26, 2002
    America's first Space Shuttle, Columbia, will return to orbit fresh from two years of work that have left it safer and more capable than ever before.

    Columbia is set to launch Feb. 28 at 6:48 a.m. EST on mission STS-109, pending review of data on the Space Shuttle's hydraulic pump attach bolts. The mission is dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the Hubble Space Telescope, the fourth such flight since the telescope's launch in 1990.

    "Returning Columbia to orbit to improve the Hubble Space Telescope is a fitting start to what will be a busy and vital year in space." said Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore.

    "We have more spacewalks planned in the next 12 months than we have ever done in a single year. We are going to fly diverse missions, dedicated to satellite maintenance, research and Space Station assembly, showcasing capabilities unique in the world. The shuttle team has done a great job in preparing for this mission."

    A maintenance and upgrade period completed last year installed a new "glass cockpit" in Columbia, increased its cargo capacity, strengthened its crew cabin and enhanced the protection of its cooling system from orbital debris.


  • Hubble Deepfield Desktop

    New Instrument Package To Expand Space Telescope's Vision
    NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been pushing the frontiers of astronomy since its launch in 1990. The orbiting observatory has watched a comet disintegrate as it passed by the Sun and pinpointed a massive star that exploded 10 billion years ago. It has provided a view of a bewildering zoo of young galaxies that existed when the cosmos was a youngster. It has measured the expansion rate of the universe and detected clumps of matter - perhaps the seeds of planets - swirling around nascent stars.

    Now its time to expand Hubble's vision even further during Servicing Mission 3B, scheduled to begin Feb. 28 with the launch of the space shuttle Columbia. The mission will give the orbital observatory a series of midlife upgrades that includes the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), a new instrument package that covers twice the area, has twice the sharpness, and is up to five times more sensitive to light than Hubble's workhorse camera, the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. The simulated image [right frame] depicts how the cosmos will look through the "eyes" of the ACS.

  • Columbia's new cockpit replaced mechanical instruments with 11 full- color, flat-panel displays. The new cockpit is lighter, uses less electricity and sets the stage for the next generation of improvements - - a "smart cockpit" under development that will make the cabin even more user-friendly.

    Columbia is the second of NASA's four Space Shuttles to be fitted with the new "glass cockpit." Technicians also performed comprehensive inspections of the Space Shuttle's more than 200 miles of electrical wiring, installing protection to prevent future damage in high-traffic areas. Intensive structural inspection of Columbia also was performed as well as 133 modifications and upgrades.

    The orbiter will fly under the command of Scott Altman (Cmdr., USN). Duane Carey (Lt. Col., USAF) will serve as pilot. Mission specialists will be John Grunsfeld, Nancy Currie (Lt. Col., USA), Richard Linnehan, James Newman and Michael Massimino. Grunsfeld, Linnehan, Newman and Massimino will work in alternating teams of two to perform the five planned spacewalks.

    Columbia's flight is scheduled to end with landing back at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida March 11. STS-109 marks the 27th mission for Columbia and the 108th in Shuttle program history.

    Related Links
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    Advanced Camera for Surveys Set for February Shuttle Launch
    Boulder - Feb 7, 2002
    The Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.-built Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) is ready for its anticipated February launch aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.

    Shuttle Set To Enjoy Twentieth Birthday
    Huntsville - April 2, 2001
    When Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off on its historic first flight the morning of April 12, 1981, John Newton remembers "the toughest thing I ever had to do was stay seated in my chair at launch control" at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.



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