Monday, May 11, 2009

Playing with HST

My Orbiter skills are a bit rusty, and after what I thought was an on-time launch of Atlantis (simulating this afternoon's real launch tonight), I had a pretty substantial misalignment between my orbital plane and that of the Hubble. I played around with the plane alignment tool, but I was impatient and I made things worse. Time to review chapter 5 of Go Play In Space on rendezvous and docking (which I wrote, but that doesn't mean I can remember everything - it takes practice to maintain any complex skill). But not tonight!

So no time to do the whole rendezvous thing, but I did spend a few minutes on one of Dave's STS-125 Expansion Pack FD3 (flight day 3) scenarios, "Ready to Grapple" - I managed to sneak up on the telescope with linear thrusters, stabilize position, and grapple it with the shuttle RMS (robotic arm) system. It's pretty easy when the scenario gives you a good starting position so there aren't too many variables to keep happy (above, a couple of snapshots from my simulated maneuvers tonight).

Hey, this is cool, STS-125 is really in orbit and will grab HST for real on Wednesday. Why not sooner? Orbital mechanics-wise, I'm sure they could rendezvous more quickly (especially if they planned the launch for that), but there are lots of things to do to get ready. The crew's days will be pretty full, as this flight plan shows.

Now I have to go look up what happens if an EVA astronaut sneezes inside her helmet (someone asked me this at work today - preliminary answer here, some cool info here, more later I guess) and then get to bed.

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