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J Massimino join crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia

Georgia Institute Of Technology : 08 January, 2002  (New Product)
Astronaut Michael J. Massimino joins the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia in February on an operation to upgrade and service the Hubble Space Telescope. Massimino, a former associate professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is preparing for a February launch aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-109.
Columbia and its seven astronauts are tentatively scheduled to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 21. As Mission Specialist No. 5, Massimino will join Mission Commander Scott D. Altman and crew on an operation to significantly upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope's capabilities and power system.

STS-109 will be the fourth mission to service Hubble, which captures pictures of the universe from above Earth's atmosphere and sends back a portrait of the universe in exquisite detail. The crew will conduct five space walks to service the telescope.

The crew of STS-109: From the left are astronauts Michael J. Massimino, Richard M. Linnehan, Pilot Duane G. Carey, Commander Scott D. Altman, Nancy J. Currie, John M. Grunsfeld and James H. Newman.

Massimino came to Georgia Tech in 1995 to teach human-machine systems engineering classes and conduct research on human-machine interfaces for space and aircraft systems in the Center for Human-Machine Systems Research. He left Georgia tech when he was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1996.

During the 11-day mission, the crew of Columbia will rendezvous with the telescope then grapple and berth it to the Space Shuttle using its remote manipulator system. The crew will install the Advanced Camera for Surveys system, which will dramatically increase Hubble's ability to see deeper into the universe.

To further extend Hubble's discovery potential, a new cooling system will be added that will restore the telescope's infrared capability. The crew also will install a smaller and more efficient solar array, that when combined with a new power control unit, will provide more power to the telescope and allow multiple scientific instruments to operate concurrently.

The STS-109 mission patch depicts the Hubble Space Telescope and the Space Shuttle Columbia over North America.

Hubble was placed into orbit by the space shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990, and every few years astronauts conduct a servicing mission to install new components and make general repairs. Hubble will be decommissioned in 2010 and replaced by the Next Generation Space Telescope, now in development.

The $2 billion Hubble Space Telescope is the most complex and sensitive space observatory ever constructed. About the size of a school bus, it is 43.3 feet long and 14 feet wide. Hubble weighs 25,500 pounds and orbits 335 nautical miles above Earth. Since being lifted into orbit, Hubble has become the principal tool for exploring the universe.

A former systems engineer with IBM, Massimino received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1992. During graduate school, he worked with NASA in several research capacities. He was later employed by McDonnell Douglas Aerospace in Houston.

Massimino joins a distinguished list of astronauts, or astronaut candidates for future missions, who have Georgia Tech connections.
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