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(Nov. 8, 2021) — The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021.NASA/SpaceX NASA is celebrating the 25th anniversary of International Space Station operations during a live conversation with crew aboard the microgravity laboratory for the benefit of humanity. During a space-to-Earth call at 12:25 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 6, the Expedition 70 crew will speak with NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana and Joel Montalbano, space station program manager.
Watch on the NASA+ streaming service at no cost on demand. The discussion also will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.
On Dec. 6, 1998, the first two elements of the orbital outpost, Unity and Zarya, were attached by crew members of space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-88 mission. Cabana was the commander of the mission and the first American to enter the space station.
Through this global endeavor, astronauts have continuously lived and worked aboard the space station for more than 23 years, testing technologies, performing science, and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. It has been visited by 273 people from 21 countries.
More than 3,300 research and educational investigations have been conducted on station from 108 countries and areas. Many of these research and technology investigations benefit people on Earth, and many lay the groundwork for future commercial destinations in low Earth orbit and exploration farther into the solar system. Together with Artemis missions to the Moon, these proving grounds will help prepare NASA for future human exploration of Mars.
Learn more about the International Space Station at:
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Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
Katie Konans, NASA’s audio and podcasting lead at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is one of two NASA employees named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Class of 2024. The other agency honoree, Clare Luckey, is a systems engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Katie Konans is NASA’s audio and podcasting lead at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.NASA/Rob Andreoli Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list is a selection of young, creative, and bold minds the magazine’s experts consider revolutionaries, changing the course of business and society. Forbes evaluated more than 20,000 nominees to decide on 600 business and industry figures, with 30 selected in each of 20 industries.
“When I joined NASA in 2018, the agency didn’t have a dedicated audio program or strategy,” Konans said. “I was fresh out of an NPR member station fellowship, excited about the world of audio storytelling, and had the rare opportunity to build out a new part of NASA’s communications program.
“I will forever feel fortunate to have had that chance to experiment with a new medium and grow NASA’s audio program into the storytelling unit it is today. I recognize what a unique privilege it is to get the time, space, and encouragement – to do something new and different, that also pushes against the status quo, and have that big bet pay off.”
Konans has revolutionized NASA’s digital strategy through her work in audio communication. She is a creative communicator who works at the intersection of storytelling and strategy. Konan’s work has expanded NASA’s reach in the digital audio space, resulting in millions of downloads worldwide.
At NASA, she manages five active podcasts, including the flagship podcast “NASA’s Curious Universe,” which she launched in 2020. Since taking the leadership role in 2019, she’s grown the podcast audience to more than 8 million episode plays on Apple Podcasts alone, with a listener retention rate of 70% on average. She’s received the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal, a Webby Award, and the Robert H. Goddard Award for her team’s contributions to NASA’s public engagement and communication.
Prior to joining NASA, Konans was a features reporter at NPR affiliate Georgia Public Broadcasting, where she covered community-focused stories. Konans is passionate about working with students and is a coordinating mentor for Goddard’s Office of Communications internship program.
“I’m from the small town of McDonough, Georgia. I graduated from Mercer University in 2019 as the first in my family to complete a traditional college degree, but not without overcoming significant roadblocks. I put myself through school, and really struggled financially to make it to the finish line. I didn’t give up, and it’s one of the big reasons I was able to make it to NASA.
“I have to thank the many mentors I’ve had along the way, but especially the faculty of Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism. While I was battling those challenges, they saw something in me and truly encouraged me to reach for the stars. It’s one of the reasons I’m so involved in mentoring NASA’s communications interns today – I know that having just one person in your corner can absolutely change your life.”
In 2023, Konans also launched the agency’s first Spanish podcast in collaboration with the NASA en Español team.
“Today, NASA’s podcasts reach hundreds of thousands of podcast listeners across the globe, sharing stories of space and science that educate, inspire, and encourage younger audiences to get curious about the world of science and space. Working with my team to share those stories is more than I could have ever dreamed of being a part of. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
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Hubble Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Servicing Mission 1
Astronaut F. Story Musgrave works in the space shuttle Endeavour’s cargo bay while the solar array panels on the Hubble Space Telescope are deployed during the final Servicing Mission 1 spacewalk. NASA In the pre-dawn hours on Dec. 2, 1993, the space shuttle Endeavour launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a critical mission to repair NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Hubble was designed to be serviced in space with components that astronauts can slide in and out of place. But prior to launch, no one expected the first servicing mission to be of such urgency.
For three years, Hubble had been the punchline of late-night comics and editorial cartoons: the telescope that couldn’t see straight. Since its deployment in 1990, the telescope had been beaming blurry images back to Earth, the result of a flaw in the shape of its primary mirror. Though the mirror was off by only one-fiftieth the width of a human hair, the error had devastating consequences: the light from the mirror didn’t focus quite right. While the images were still better than those taken from Earth and science was still possible, their quality was not what the world expected.
The sense that you got was everybody was looking at the servicing and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope as the mission that could prove NASA’s worth … There was this overarching focus and pressure on the success of this mission.
Servicing Mission 1 Astronaut
Servicing Mission 1 was the solution. Aboard the shuttle were the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR), along with other critical components to upgrade the telescope. WFPC2, responsible for the telescope’s visually impactful images, had built-in corrective optics to compensate for the mirror flaw and would replace the Wide Field/Planetary Camera that Hubble launched with. COSTAR was a refrigerator-sized component containing a constellation of mirrors, some only the size of a U.S. nickel, intended to correct and redirect light to the telescope’s other cameras and spectrographs.
Astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton grips a tool to perform servicing mission tasks on the Hubble Space Telescope during the fourth spacewalk of Servicing Mission 1. NASA The shuttle’s crew of seven astronauts was aware that not only Hubble’s fate was on their shoulders, but the public perception of NASA and its space program as well.
“If the Hubble repair is a failure, we can write off space science for the foreseeable future,” John Bahcall, the late astrophysicist who advocated for the telescope and a member of its science working group, told the New York Times in 1993.
Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Lead Producer: Grace Weikert On Dec. 2, 2023, NASA commemorates the 30th anniversary of Servicing Mission 1 and its success in transforming Hubble into one of NASA’s greatest triumphs: a shining example of human ingenuity in the face of adversity.
During one of the most complex spacewalking missions ever attempted, astronauts conducted five extravehicular activities, totaling over 35 hours. They removed the High Speed Photometer instrument to add COSTAR and swapped out the original Wide Field/Planetary Camera for the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. They also installed other critical components to upgrade the telescope.
The crew of Servicing Mission 1 poses for a portrait on the space shuttle. In the front row from left to right are Swiss scientist Claude Nicollier, mission specialist; Kenneth D. Bowersox, pilot; and Richard O. Covey, mission commander. In the back row are the spacewalkers on this flight: F. Story Musgrave, payload commander; Jeffrey A. Hoffman, mission specialist; Kathryn D. Thornton, mission specialist; and Thomas D. Akers, mission specialist. NASA At 1 a.m. on December 18, 1993, about a week after the mission had ended, astronomers gathered around computers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore to witness the first new image from the telescope: a star, shining clear and pristine in the image without the hazy effects of Hubble’s flawed mirror. The new images were so dramatically different that even though the telescope needed around 13 weeks for adjustment to reach its full capabilities, NASA released them early. “It’s fixed beyond our wildest expectations,” said Ed Weiler, Hubble chief scientist during SM1, at a January 1994 press conference.
The look on people’s faces as this picture came up – this was an old [cathode ray] tube-type TV. It took a while for it to build up, but it got clearer and clearer and clearer. Everybody starts shouting.
Hubble chief scientist during SM1
Images of spiral galaxy M100 show the improvement in Hubble’s vision between Wide Field/Planetary Camera and its replacement instrument, the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. NASA, STScI Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who had advocated diligently for Hubble, was the first to show off the new images to the public at the Jan. 13 press conference. “I’m happy to announce today that after its launch in 1990 and some of its earlier disappointments, the trouble with Hubble is over,” she said.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski displays a picture showing the difference between a star image taken before COSTAR’s installation and the same star after Servicing Mission 1 during the Jan. 13, 1993 press conference announcing the success of the mission. NASA Though Servicing Mission 1 is best remembered for its resolution of Hubble’s blurry vision, it accomplished a host of additional tasks that helped transform the telescope into the astronomical powerhouse it remains today.
By the time Servicing Mission 1 launched, the telescope’s gyroscopes – delicate pieces of equipment required to steer and point Hubble – were already breaking down. Three of the six gyroscopes, or gyros, aboard Hubble had failed. The other three – typically kept as backups – were in operation, the minimum number needed to keep Hubble collecting science data. Astronauts replaced four gyroscopes, a fix that would help keep the telescope running smoothly for several years.
Early in Hubble’s time in orbit, NASA discovered that the telescope’s solar arrays would expand and contract excessively in the alternating heat and cold of space as the telescope traveled in and out of sunlight, causing them to vibrate. This forced engineers to use Hubble’s computing capacity to compensate for the “jitter” and reduced observation time. Astronauts replaced Hubble’s solar arrays with new versions that brought the natural jitter down to acceptable levels.
Astronauts also performed an augmentation whose vital importance would become clear a year later: upgrading Hubble’s flight computer with a co-processor and associated memory. Just weeks before the disintegrating comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter in 1994, Hubble went into a protective “safe mode” due to a memory unit problem in the main computer. Engineers were able to use that co-processor’s memory to fix the problem, capturing stunning images of the gas giant being pummeled by comet fragments.
Hubble Memorable Moments: Comet Impact
Find out more about Servicing Mission 1 and its accomplishments
Servicing Mission 1’s impact echoed far beyond Hubble. The mission was a showcase for tasks that could be done in space, proving humanity’s ability to perform highly complex work in orbit. The lessons learned from training for Hubble and from the servicing work itself would be built upon for other astronaut missions, including the four subsequent servicing visits to Hubble between 1997-2009. These additional missions to Hubble would enable the installation of new, cutting-edge instruments, repair of existing science instruments, and the replacement of key hardware, keeping Hubble at the forefront of astrophysics exploration.
Further, the lessons learned from Servicing Mission 1 were a guiding force for work on the International Space Station, and for missions yet to occur. “A lot of the knowledge that was developed there transferred directly to construction of the International Space Station and it’ll transfer to the things we do with [the future orbiting lunar space station] Gateway someday,” said Kenneth Bowersox, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, who was also astronaut on Servicing Mission 1. “And it’ll apply to things we do on the Moon and in deep space, going to Mars and beyond. It all links.”
To celebrate Servicing Mission 1, NASA is releasing a series of videos over the next two weeks featuring key players – astronauts, scientists, engineers, and more – as they reflect on the struggles and triumphs of that time, as well as the emotional and personal impact that Hubble and SM1 had on their lives. Follow @NASAHubble on X, Instagram, and Facebook, or go to nasa.gov/hubble to watch as the series kicks off this weekend.
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