From NASA Goddard: “NASA Releases Hubble Memorable Moments Video: Brute Force”

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Goddard Space Flight Center

July 23, 2015
Katrina Jackson
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

In celebration of the 25 years since the Hubble Space Telescope’s April 1990 launch, NASA is releasing the second in a series of videos showcasing moments in Hubble’s history that were memorable for Goddard’s engineers and flight operators.

“Hubble Memorable Moments: Brute Force,” which was produced by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, describes repairing the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on Hubble Servicing Mission 4 in May, 2009.

Hubble team members at the Goddard Space Flight Center pose with Astronaut Mike Massimino and the handrail mock-up used during the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph repair on Hubble Servicing Mission 4. From left to right: Bill Nilsson, Ken Dickinson, Jeff Roddin, Mike Massimino, Bill Mitchell, James Cooper Credits: NASA

The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, or STIS, was installed on Hubble during Servicing Mission 2 in 1997. A versatile instrument taking measurements in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths, STIS has discovered supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies, and made one of the first spectroscopic measurements of the atmosphere of an exoplanet – a planet orbiting another star.

STIS was originally designed to operate for five years, but it lasted 7.5 until a power supply failed in August, 2004. At the time, STIS was being used for about 30 percent of the Hubble observing program. Because STIS was such an incredibly useful instrument, it became a high-priority task for repair on Hubble’s final servicing mission.

Most Hubble servicing mission tasks involve replacing an instrument by swapping out large boxes, not repairing an instrument, which involves much more detailed and nimble work. Gaining access to STIS’ electronics cards would involve removing 107 small screws, so Goddard engineers custom-designed a fastener capture plate for the task while the astronauts trained tirelessly at the Johnson Space Center for the months leading up to the mission.

The Hubble team was well prepared for this incredibly complex task. Sometimes, however, it’s the simplest items that present a huge obstacle, and the highly trained team must scramble to quickly devise an unusual solution.

Watch the video to see how this spacewalk on May 17, 2009 played out.

“Hubble Memorable Moments: Brute Force” can be downloaded at:

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope and its 25th anniversary festivities, visit: or

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NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

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