STS -109 (English Space Transportation System) is the designation for a flight mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia ( OV -102) from NASA. The launch took place on March 1, 2002. It was the 108th Space Shuttle mission and the 27th and penultimate flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

The first space shuttle flight of 2002 was the fourth maintenance flight to the Hubble Space Telescope. Five outboard work ( EVAs ) some of the major operating components, such as the solar module and a control system are replaced. The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS ) - In addition, the telescope was given a new camera.


  • Scott Altman ( third space flight), Commander
  • Duane Carey ( first space flight), Pilot
  • John Grunsfeld (4th space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Nancy Currie ( 4 space flight ), Mission Specialist
  • James Newman ( fourth space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Richard Linnehan ( third space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Michael Massimino ( first space flight), Mission Specialist


After their final mission STS -93 Columbia was ( Orbiter Major Down Period) flew its second major overhaul to the manufacturing plant in Palmdale, California. There, among other things, outdated screens were replaced in the cockpit with new ones, making the Columbia to the Atlantis orbiter, the second with a so-called glass cockpit was. In mid-2001 she was flown back to Kennedy Space Center and prepared for the flight.

Because one of Hubble's gyroscopes, which had a slight malfunction and was therefore investigated, the start date was postponed by several months by this time. Although the start was already planned for 19 November 2001 he was moved gradually to 14 February 2002 this problem.

The Columbia was down on 17 January by the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building and fixed to the end connected to the solid rocket External Tank. Due to a problem with the crawler transporter, which should take the shuttle to the launch base 39A, the rollout was delayed there for several days and finally took place on 28 January 2002.

A few days later, the crew came to the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test at KSC on. There they inspected the flight hardware and learned how to deal with the emergency systems at the launch site. The rescue systems for the case that the team is already forced at startup, to leave the starting system. Meanwhile, the launch date was postponed to 28 February 2002.

Mission History


The final work on the shuttle were terminated on 22 February 2002, so the countdown could begin on February 25. A few hours earlier arrived the crew at the Kennedy Space Center. Due to the relatively low temperatures at the launch site and a problem with the landing gear, however, it was decided to start one day be postponed to March 1, 2002 at 11:22 UTC clock. The filling of the external tank with liquid hydrogen and oxygen began on February 28 at 19:00 UTC clock and ended at 22:13 UTC clock. The crew, meanwhile, withdrew their takeoff and landing suits on, left the Operations and Checkout Building and arrived around 1:00 clock to UTC at the launch site. After they boarded the shuttle, there was a small problem with an indicator which should show the closing of the hatch, resulting in the final closing of the hatch delayed somewhat. Nevertheless, the Columbia lifted off on schedule at the beginning of the 64 -minute launch window at 11:22:02 UTC clock. Two minutes after launch, the solid rocket boosters were jettisoned. After eight and a half minutes, the main engines were shut down and ten seconds later thrown off the external tank.

After the start, it was discovered that one of the freon cooler of the shuttle fluid lost. After the cooler was observed for a while, the crew was able to continue with the normal tasks. The cooler should not be a problem throughout the mission.

Rendezvous and capture

Beginning with the first activation of the OMS engines, the OMS -2 burn, the crew launched a series of seven thruster firings that were running distributed over the first three flight days and the Columbia to a position 15 km brought behind Hubble. In this position, Hubble received from the Control Center in Greenbelt command to store the transmit antenna and close the protective door of the inner mirror. A little later lit the Columbia their engines again for the TI burn, the last main engine ignition before taking the telescope, which further reduced the gap between shuttle and telescope and the Columbia about 800 m brought into a position below the telescope. From there, Scott Altman took over manual control and brought the Columbia to a position 12 m below the Hubble Telescope. Richard Linnehan helped him by controlling the distance to Hubble by means of a portable laser measuring device. From there, Nancy Currie used the robotic arm to grab Hubble and focus on the maintenance platform. There was mounted and connected to the power supply of the shuttle. Four and a half hours later commands were added to the obtaining of the solar collectors in order to exchange them for the first two out-points. Furthermore, they prepared themselves for the first exit which was to take place the following day. These included, in that the air pressure was reduced in the cabin to 10.5 psi.

Working on Hubble

From the fourth to the ninth day of flying a spacewalk was conducted to improve the performance of the telescope daily. To make this possible, two teams were formed alternately carried out the exits. John Grunsfeld and Linnehan formed the first team and took over the exits in one, three and five. The exits two and four were conducted by James Newman and Michael Massimino. In all five exits that each non-active team was responsible for the passage speaking of the checklists and tasks of the active team. While all exits Nancy Currie maneuvered the robotic arm of the shuttle. Scott Altman supported them in this. Duane Carey took on various tasks. Among other things, he was responsible for the video downlink.

The exits can be divided into two groups. In the course of the first three exits almost all the electronics has been replaced. Affected the already mentioned solar collectors and the Power Control Unit ( power control unit PCU). The last two exits were used to expand and improve the scientific capabilities with the installation of the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS ) and the re-commissioning of NICMOS (Near - Infrared Camera and Multi- Object Spectrometer ) through the installation of a new cooling system.

Renewal of the electronics

On the fourth day of flying Grunsfeld and Linnehan undertook the first of five exits. The main task was the replacement of the solar panel on the right side of the Columbia. To allow this, some preparatory tasks needed to be performed. Among other things, the Manipulator Foot Restraint, a work platform for extravehicular activities, attached to the arm of the shuttle. Then they replaced a fuse in order to subsequently solve the collector can already moved together. This was temporarily stowed and installed and unfolded the new, more effective and smaller collector at his former position. The withdrawal ended with the packing up of the old collector and preparations for further exits and emergency return of the shuttle. The outer hatch was closed after seven hours and one minute.

The second exit of the mission, which was conducted by Newman and Massimino, proceeded after a short preparation phase as well as the first exit on the previous day. Main difference was that instead of right now, the left panel has been replaced. Then Newman took a set of gyroscopes, which should be installed as a replacement for the defective set. Massimino Hubble meanwhile opened and began to dismantle the set. He then traded it in Newman and installed the new set in the position, while Newman stowed the old set in the position in which the new set had previously found. In addition, they exchanged two brackets that they considered after a brief investigation for replacement need. After the final cleanup of the exit ended with a period of seven hours and 16 minutes.

Due to a water leak in the space suit of Grunsfeld delayed the launching of the third exit, while the PCU should be replaced. These had to Hubble for the first time since the launch be completely switched off. After the preparations batteries from Hubble were first taken from the grid of Linnehan and the cable ends covered with a protective cover. Grunsfeld installed Meanwhile, various heat protective mats at several points Hubble, which should ensure that Hubble is not too cool down while it is turned off. He then brought further tools to Linnehan and went into the airlock to receive supplemental oxygen for the rest of the laid seven hours on exit. At the same time Linnehan started 30 of the 36 compounds of the power of Hubble to resolve the PCU. He traded with Grunsfeld the courts and got the new PCU from the payload bay. Grunsfeld replaced the last six connections and took the old PCU from his position. He exchanged at Linnehan against the new and installed them in the position where previously the old PCU has found. While he restored the electrical connections, Linnehan stowed the old PCU and fueled his suit also on supplemental oxygen. He then took minor maintenance in preparations prior to the last two exits. Subsequently, he joined the batteries with the power supply and dismantled part of the heat protective mats. The exit was during the Hubble for four hours and 24 minutes without power, ended after the cleanup with a time of six hours and 48 minutes.

Enhancement of scientific skills

During the fourth, performed by Duo Newman and Massimino exit this worked after the preparatory tasks together first to take the Faint Object Camera ( FOC) from the power supply and then remove them from their position in the Hubble, so they temporarily stored by Newman could be. Thus, the last of Hubble's original instruments was decommissioned. Together, they prepared the fifth exit by installing a power distribution before they began to pick up the ACS from its holder in the payload bay and attach to Hubble and connect. Finally, they grabbed the FOC in the container formerly the ACS included and exchanged positions. The next task was the installation of an electronic accessory unit, which should provide the power to the newly installed cooling system. It was necessary that various power connections had to be relayed. Finally they removed the heat protection mats that had remained from the third exit and returned to the cleanup and exit a period of seven hours and 18 minutes back to the airlock.

During the last exit of Grunsfeld and Linnehan they installed after the preparatory tasks, the new cooling system for NICMOS. To this end, they first prepared the device itself, modified by the earth and the old cooling system disabled. Then they came for the radiator and fastened him in so Grunsfeld Hubble was able to connect it to the circuit. Linnehan began meanwhile to bring the to the cooling system belonging radiator from the payload bay. They brought him to Hubble's exterior and connected him with the coolant circuit and the power supply. Also, the cooler itself was further attached to the power grid. After further cleanup exit this ended after seven hours and 32 minutes.

Exposure and return

On the ninth day of flying began preparations for the re- launching of Hubble, as well as an unneeded reserve departure of Newman and Massimino. About three hours before exposing the robot arm attached Currie of Columbia at the anchor point Hubble. A little later the transmission antennas were again extended and the Columbia placed in a position that should allow Hubble's new solar panels, Hubble's batteries recharge. Two hours before exposure Hubble was again switched to the internal power supply and disconnect the power supply to the shuttle. Soon after Hubble was released from its bracket and lifted from Michael Massimino from the payload bay. Nancy Currie then took on the task to release the arm of Hubble and bring to a safe position. Then Scott Altman and Duane Carey began to Columbia from Hubble wegzumanövrieren.

The next few days were used for the recovery of a crew of five consecutive exits, on the other, the preparations for the landing. So during the tenth and eleventh flight day all utensils are no longer needed and were stowed on the eleventh day of flying the RCS Hotfire be in which the auxiliary engines tested for landing, carried out. Since there were no other problems that Columbia was able to land the next day at 8:32 UTC clock at Kennedy Space Center and end this fourth servicing mission with a duration of ten days, 22 hours eleven minutes and 9 seconds.


For the Shuttle Program this mission was a complete success. The Columbia and its crew worked together perfectly and improved at 35 hours and 55 minutes during the STS -61 record set for the entire duration of the exits during a mission by 27 minutes.

After several weeks of testing, Hubble was released for scientific purposes. Both ACS and NICMOS worked flawlessly and surpassed ACS partially expectations. With this results, it was confident that during the fifth servicing mission, Hubble through the installation of the Wide Field Camera 3 ( WFC 3) and the Cosmic orgin Spectograph ( COS) as a replacement for the WFPC -2 and the COSTAR Optikkorrigierung and new batteries and sensors could continue to operate until at least 2010. Subsequently, the telescope should be brought back to Earth. For both flights, the Columbia was provided because it was unfavorable for ISS mission due to their construction.

Tragically, the plans for further Hubble servicing missions were no longer valid since the Columbia during its next mission STS -107 during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere broke apart and its crew perished there. Consequently, all shuttle flights that did not lead to the International Space Station (ISS), deleted without replacement, since in these cases the principle of the safe harbor could not access. After the success of " Return-to- Flight" missions STS -114 and STS -121 as well as the development of a rescue mission profile, the pressure of many scientists was given in and added the fifth servicing flight to the Hubble as STS -125 back in the flight plan.