Warped bolt delays Hubble repair

WASHINGTON DC – A warped bolt frustrated astronauts Mike Massimino and Mike Good yesterday, forcing the spacewalkers to cancel the installation of a new protective thermal insulation panel on the Hubble telescope.

But the spacewalkers continued repairs and improvements to the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), in an effort to extend the Hubble’s life for another ten years. The spacewalk lasted eight hours and two minutes, making it the sixth longest in history. The job involved the removal of a daunting 111 fasteners.

Massimino and Good replaced a low-voltage power supply board, which contains a failed power converter. Due to this power supply failure, STIS has been in “safe mode” since August 2004.

The damaged bolt held up access to the STIS cover plate. After a series of specialist tools failed to shift it, it had to be wrenched away by brute force – following some practice sessions on a model back on Earth. The delay meant that the astronauts were unable to carry out their other task for the day, replacing some worn insulation.

The day before, astronauts succeeded in getting Hubble’s survey camera going again.

Ground controllers have been looking at various options for the fifth and final STS-125 spacewalk today. “Our goal is to get the spacewalk done on time, which is scheduled to last 5 hours, 45 minutes. Batteries and the Fine Guidance Sensor tasks are our priorities, ” said NASA in a statement. The astronauts will also attempt to make the insulation repairs that were frustrated yesterday.