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John Young tribute
A gala at the National Air and Space Museum pays tribute to retiring space pioneer John Young. America's most experienced astronaut is leaving NASA this month after an extraordinary 42-year career. (1hr 24min file)
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Shuttle program update
Space shuttle program manager Bill Parsons, deputy program manager Wayne Hale and integration manager John Casper hold a news conference in Houston on Monday to provide an update on Return to Flight work. (61min 35sec file)
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Shuttle work
This collection of footage illustrates activities underway throughout NASA on the external tank, orbiter in-flight inspection techniques and pre-launch processing work at the Cape. (9min 05sec file)
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This date in history
The Space shuttle Endeavour lifts off at 4:26 a.m. on December 2, 1993 for the daring mission to fix the flawed vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. (3min 44sec file)
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Soyuz leaves ISS
The Russian Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft with the Expedition 10 crew undocks from the International Space Station's Pirs module for the capsule's relocation to another docking port. (2min 19sec file)
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Roll maneuver
After backing away from the space station, the Soyuz capsule performs a roll maneuver for alignment to prepare for linkup with the new docking port. (2min 04sec file)
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Earth views
Spectacular views of the Russian Soyuz capsule flying over the Earth were captured by station cameras during the move between docking ports. (3min 35sec file)
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Successful docking
Expedition 10 returns to the space station with a successful docking to the Zarya control module's Earth-facing docking port, completing the Soyuz relocation. (1min 50sec file)
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ISS view of docking
External television cameras on the International Space Station provide views of the Soyuz's final approach and docking to Zarya. (3min 34sec file)
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Launch of Swift
The Boeing Delta rocket launches from Cape Canaveral carrying the Swift gamma-ray observatory. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and includes onboard video of the nose cone separation. (5min 45sec file)
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Report: Shuttle servicing of Hubble is best option
NATIONAL ACADEMIES NEWS RELEASE
Posted: December 8, 2004

To ensure continuation of the extraordinary scientific output of the Hubble Space Telescope and to prepare for its eventual de-orbiting, NASA should send a space shuttle mission, not a robotic one, says a new congressionally requested report from the National Academies' National Research Council. The agency should consider launching the manned mission as early as possible after the space shuttle is deemed safe to fly again, because some of the telescope's components could degrade to the point where it would no longer be usable or could not be safely de-orbited, said the committee that wrote the report.

"A shuttle servicing mission is the best option for extending the life of the Hubble telescope and ultimately de-orbiting it safely," said committee chair Louis J. Lanzerotti, distinguished research professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, and consultant, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, N.J. "NASA's current planned robotic mission is significantly more technologically risky, so a robotic mission should be pursued only for the eventual removal of the Hubble telescope from orbit, not for an attempt to upgrade it. Also, a shuttle mission could be used to place equipment on the telescope to make a robotic de-orbiting mission more feasible."

The Hubble telescope, which has operated continuously in orbit for the past 14 years, was designed to be serviced regularly by astronauts. Four servicing missions replaced nearly all the key components while increasing the telescope's capabilities. The fifth and final mission -- to replace aging batteries, fine-guidance sensors, gyroscopes, and two scientific instruments -- was originally intended to be completed by a shuttle crew as well, but NASA is currently planning an unmanned mission to service the telescope robotically.

The committee's principal concerns about a robotic mission are the risk of failing to develop it in time and the risk of a mission failure, as well as the possibility that the robot could critically damage the telescope. A robotic mission would face significant challenges in using its grapple system to perform autonomous close-proximity maneuvers and the final capture of the space telescope -- activities that have no precedent in the history of the space program and whose chances of success are low, according to the committee.

"Our detailed analyses showed that the proposed robotic mission involves a level of complexity that is inconsistent with the current 39-month development schedule," said Lanzerotti. "The design of such a mission, as well as the immaturity of the technology involved and the inability to respond to unforeseen failures, make it highly unlikely that NASA will be able to extend the scientific lifetime of the telescope through robotic servicing."

The committee assessed the safety risks of a shuttle servicing mission by comparing shuttle missions to the International Space Station -- to which NASA plans to send 25 to 30 more shuttle flights -- and shuttle missions to the Hubble telescope. The differences between the risks faced by the crew of a single shuttle mission to the space station and the risks faced by the crew of a mission to the Hubble telescope are very small, the committee concluded.

Also, a shuttle crew would be able to successfully carry out unforeseen repairs to the Hubble telescope and develop innovative procedures for unexpected challenges in orbit, the report notes. Such contingencies have been successfully addressed on three of the four prior missions to the telescope. A robotic mission, on the other hand, might not be able to repair failures that it is not designed to address, possibly stalling the mission in its early stages.

"With the replacement of aging components and the installation of new science instruments, Hubble is expected to generate as many new discoveries about stars, extra-solar planets, and the far reaches of the universe as it has already produced so far, with images 10 times more sensitive than ever before," Lanzerotti said.

The study was sponsored by NASA. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter.

Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
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Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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Expedition 21
The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.
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Hubble Patch
The official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase.
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