Next week’s final launch of the space shuttle Atlantic will be bittersweet for all of us at NASA and for space fans the world over. It will be the end of something very, very big in many people’s lives, and in the life of the United States space program. Something to be proud of; something to mourn. STS-135 is an end and a beginning. I suspect there won’t be a dry eye in the house around here when she goes into orbit.
But for our part, Goddard’s going out in style. The shuttle Atlantis will deliver to the International Space Station a package of gear developed here in a fury of activity and inspiration and hard work over the past 18 months. It’s called the Robotic Refueling mission.
Tools and supporting gear bolted to the space station will, later in the year, allow astronauts operators using the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM/Dextre) to explore an utterly new technology to repair or refuel satellites in orbit.
[Many thanks to NASA's Alex Janas for clarifying how the tools will be used on orbit, and by whom. Dextre, the space station's two-armed Canadian robotic "handyman," will manipulate the tools developed at Goddard. Operations will be entirely remote controlled by collaborating teams of flight controllers at Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Canadian Space Agency's control center in Quebec.]
The animation below says it all: NASA at its best: It seems-like-science-fiction-but-it’s-not.
On Tuesday last, gogblog tagged along on a media tour of the robotic refueling mission, led by veteran Goddard public affairs stalwart Dewayne A. Washington.
We met the brains and muscle behind the mission at the Building 7-10-15-29 complex, where many a great mission has been developed and tested. More details and photos in future posts……
OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.