There's a very significant chapter in the long history of the Hubble Space Telescope that I had never found written up anywhere.
You could find a few scholarly tones about all the bureaucratic warfare from early 19 sixties to the mid late 19 seventies that led to Hubble actually being approved and funded by Congress and starting to get built.
You could find a lot on the other end of the story about all the magnificent images and astronomical discoveries, but oh my God, they discovered the mirror was flawed that thank heavens they fixed it on.
We go to the glories pictures number that is falls but leaves a bit out about Oh, thank heavens they fixed it.
There's not a space telescope ill in any hardware story.
Just easily go by and pick up the tools that you're going to need 300 miles above the Earth, whizzing around at 17,500 miles an hour, with the repairs being done by people who are wearing the equivalent of double snowmobile suit, triple mittens and buckets on their head.
So somewhere along the way, in that gap that has been written about, some people need to apply an awful lot of foresight and then invention and creativity and and careful engineering, actually imagine, How do you do that?
And then what gear and gadgets do you actually need to go do it in orbit?
And how does that need to be adapted?
Will that work and in particular the bit about making sure you actually have the gear and equipment that makes this prospect of lightness of reality?
That work got done in a five year block of time.
From 1985 to 1990 I worked alongside those engineers, unsung engineers from the Lockheed Martin Corporation, in different parts of NASA.
They are to Hubble what the hidden figures computer ladies are to the John Lennon early Mercury story, the people whose work is absolutely indispensable to how it all came out right, but whose names have essentially never been mentioned.
And stories of how they came to be clever enough to do that never told so filling in this missing chapter of history so that people could appreciate the role that engineering foresight and inventiveness and a focus on maintenance.
Those three things play a huge role in why Hubble is the twice its lifetime success that it is.
So let's actually go back six years before that to your first spaceflight.
Andi, What's it like to wake up in space?
You know, most of us.
I think we're awakened, rousing about before Mission Control Center officially was allowed to start communicating with this again.
And you hear there's a distinctive tone that would signal the radio link opening up.
And then they just start some music running, kind of like your along clock waking up gracefully in the morning.
And when they finished, the voice would come up the loop, usually saying something innocent like Challenger, Good morning, Houston standing by and then they leave you to go about your coffee rest of your wake up ritual.
Unless something was really very president, How does this space compare with the amount of crew space that was on the shuttle?
Oh, vastly larger.
A closer comparison.
But three stories.
Three of it.
There's two decks and being on Leah maintenance, so it's a pretty intimate sort of space.
Cozy, except it's not.
It is two floors, but you've got a lot more room in it because you don't have to have your feet on the floor.
So if this is feeling a little crowded put you up there, right?
But you actually got to go outside, which is something that I tell us a little bit about that space.
What you were working on refueling a satellite?
The shuttle was advertised as being able to put you launch carry things in orbit, but also either retrieve them or repair them in orbit or refueled.
Um, and so we got the assignment that was focused on Well, let's prove you can actually refuel.
Uh, the easy part was, Can you make to couplings that we'll go together and let liquid go back and forth?
The tricky bit was the propellant.
The fuel that all satellites pretty well.
All satellites maneuver with is super toxic and super explosive.
No one who owns a satellite is going to consider us a credible refueling service.
We've never actually done refueling with this really nasty propellant.
That's what hydrogen hydrazine.
So for one thing, if you squeeze more hydrazine into a tank, that already has some in it.
If you do that too quickly, you raising the pressure in the tank raises the temperature in the tank.
And there's a really rather low temperature that if you push hydrazine to that temperature, it will just spontaneously explode with no added help.
So you've gotta have your thermal dynamics, right?
And you've got to have good control over how quickly you're adding new hydrazine in.
In this experiment, let us do some of that thermodynamics experiments.
And then the other thing is because it's so toxic and so nasty.
Do you really have the equipment that will let astronauts open off a fuel tank that's already got hydrazine in it?
Put a fuel line in that also has hydrazine it and be confident they won't get contaminated on their suits or if you get contaminated and the outside the space suit your safely sealed inside.
But you've come back into an airlock, some of that stuff on the outside.
You re pressurize the airlock.
All the little hydrazine frost on the outside of your suit will go into vapor in the air.
I mean, about a fingernails worth of hydrazine ice.
If it circulated back into the shuttle's cabin, was reckoned, would at least sick and everyone and possibly be more dangerous than that the challenge was, I want you to refill the gas tank on your car without ever touching the gas tank.
The clever engineering problem we had to solve for that was how do you make a gadget that will let you do that?
That's absolutely terrified.
So you took you 3.5 hours?
You're working with a partner?
Yes, it was.
Which is quite short by spacewalk standards, actually.
But that was thedc on fines of our test.
And then there was a a fairly minor problem with one of the space shuttles and tenders that we need to do.
Needed to do a bit of a no adjustment to as well.
All flights are great flights.
You want to fly as soon as possible as long as possible.
High inclination to see as much of the earth as possible on rule number five is get a spacewalk, if you possibly can.
And only 1/4 to 1/3 of people become Ascarrunz.
Actually Ever end up outside on this base walk.
I mean, to get to put on your very own body shaped spaceship.
Your pilot in command of your own spaceship move around in the flexibility of zero gravity, not in a water tank where you consume later pretty well.
But actually with the planet going by right up there on, then have always pretty fascinating, challenging and fascinating work to do.
It's a very coveted thing to get to do if you're the kind of people we are.