Grunsfeld works on Hubble repairs. Photo: NASA

Grunsfeld works on Hubble repairs. Photo: NASA.

The shuttle missions to repair the Hubble Space Telescope might as well have been stamped “MIT to the Rescue.” According to John Tylko ’79, who meticulously tracks the issue, MIT astronauts have been largely responsible for Hubble repairs and improvements that have vastly extended the telescope’s life span.

“Overall, MIT-based astronauts participated in 18 spacewalks and logged over 78 percent of the total spacewalk time expended to service Hubble on five space shuttle missions from 1993 through 2009,” Tylko says.

On the mission set to return tomorrow, John M. Grunsfeld ’80 and Michael J. Massimino SM ’88, ME ’90, MNG ’90, PhD ’92 took turns participating in each of the five Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs). Mark C. Lee SM ’80 was part of the 1997 mission, logging more than 19 hours during three spacewalks.

Aeronautics and Astronautics Professor Jeffrey A. Hoffman served on the first Hubble mission that fixed Hubble’s initial vision problem by installing instruments to compensate for the spherical aberration in the telescope’s primary mirror, a problem detected after Hubble’s 1990 launch.

Read an article by Tylko, Vice President of Business Development of Aurora Flight Sciences, that details Grunsfeld’s and Massimino’s work, their observations, the MIT connection, and then checkout the fabulous photos.