Astronauts Touch Down at Columbia Engineering

Feb 01 2015 | By Jesse Adams


Five astronauts touched down in Morningside Heights this past fall, sharing unforgettable memories of their mission aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to upgrade and repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Michael J. Massimino BS’84, a professor of professional practice in mechanical engineering, and four fellow astronauts from STS-125, the record-setting final Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission, convened on November 13 at Columbia’s Rennert Hall for a special look back at their incredible journey as Columbia Engineering marked 150 years and the Hubble nears its 25th birthday in space.

In May 2009, the astronauts blasted into orbit to rendezvous with the Hubble and execute a series of painstaking adjustments and installations in five space walks spanning an unprecedented 36 hours and 56 minutes. The refurbished Hubble, still going strong, now includes four new or enhanced scientific instruments, replacement batteries, new gyroscopes, and a new computer.

Massimino introduced his cosmic colleagues, Captain Scott “Scooter” Altman; mission specialist Michael T. Good; pilot Gregory C. Johnson; and flight engineer/robotics expert Megan McArthur. They presented a film compiling key moments from their journey, reflected on the roles they played in achieving all mission objectives, and took questions from the capacity crowd of students, faculty, and scientists.

Recalling feeling profoundly moved by the breathtaking view of Earth roughly 347 miles below, and the intimate camaraderie the crew developed together, Massimino encouraged students not to let earthly bounds limit their ambitions.

“I made more memories in one week than in years doing anything else,” he said. “Follow your bliss.”

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