Anyone who hangs around the astronaut scene – virtual or otherwise – has almost certainly run across astronaut Mike Massimino. While Massimino hasn’t been in space for a few years, his most recent flight being the final Hubble repair mission in 2009, he remains an active member of the astronaut corps and seems to have a great deal of fun participating in outreach projects of any variety. While ISS Commander Chris Hadfield may have more recently made the twitterverse his own, Massimino was actually the first person to tweet from space – back when news reports had to explain what Twitter was.
Massimino has just published a blog account of the challenges of that final repair mission. When reading it, one can understand why it took him so long to share the experience of a deeply personal time of despair and loneliness that he, his crew, Mission Control, and engineers back on Earth turned into an epic and collaborative success.
And I could see what they would be saying in the science books of the future. This was gonna be my legacy. My children and my grandchildren would read in their classrooms: We would know if there was life on other planets, but Gabby and Daniel’s dad broke the Hubble Space Telescope, and we’ll never know.
And through this nightmare that had just begun, I looked at my buddy Bueno, next to me in his space suit, and he was there to assist in the repair but could not take over my role. He had his own responsibilities, and I was the one trained to do the now broken part of the repair. It was my job to fix this thing. I turned and looked into the cabin where my five crewmates were, and I realized nobody in there had a space suit on.
They couldn’t come out here and help me. And then I actually looked at the Earth; I looked at our planet, and I thought, There are billions of people down there, but there’s no way I’m gonna get a house call on this one. No one can help me.
Take a few minutes; this one’s worth a read: A View of the Earth From the Hubble Space Telescope. Which I Nearly Broke. By Michael Massimino.