First Hubble Flight Hardware Arrives At Kennedy

The first major flight hardware for the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is starting to arrive at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., to begin preparations for its targeted October launch.

Three carriers, which are pallets that will hold equipment in space shuttle Atlantis' payload bay, were delivered to Kennedy Wednesday. They will be prepared for the integration of telescope science instruments, both internal and external replacement components, as well as the flight support equipment to be used by the astronauts during Atlantis' mission, designated STS-125 and SM4.

The three payload carriers are the Flight Support System (FSS), the Super Lightweight Interchangeable Carrier (SLIC), and the Orbital Replacement Unit Carrier (ORUC). At the end of July, a fourth and final carrier, the Multi-Use Lightweight Equipment (MULE) carrier, will join the others in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility where the Hubble payload is being prepared for launch.

The Flight Support System will attach, secure and provide power to Hubble and also contains the Soft Capture Mechanism that will assist in the de-orbiting of the telescope when its science mission is over. Among the components to be integrated onto the carriers are the Wide Field Camera 3 that will be placed on the SLIC with Hubble's two new battery modules. The Fine Guidance Sensor and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph will be on the ORUC, as well as the replacement gyros. The Relative Navigation Sensors and the New Outer Blanket Layers will be on the MULE. These components, which will be integrated onto the carriers, will be delivered to Kennedy during the first half of August.

Numerous crew aids and tools that the astronauts will use during their five planned spacewalks also will be integrated onto the carriers. The new hardware will ensure Hubble is at the apex of its scientific capability and that it functions efficiently for a minimum of five more years.

The processing and integration of the Hubble flight hardware will take approximately two months. The payload is scheduled to go to Launch Pad 39A in mid-September to be installed into Atlantis' payload bay.

Atlantis is targeted to launch Oct. 8 at 1:34 a.m. EDT.

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