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Servicing The Hubble Space Telescope

By John Lester - images & text © 2008

Type: Softbound (9 x 9"), 120pp, 320 color photos, ISBN: 1580071384, by Dennis R. Jenkins and Jorge Frank
MSRP: $19.95 USD (~$20.65 CAN/ € 13.51 EUR) available from Specialty Press
Overall Rating: 9 - a treasure trove of visual reference

This slim volume, latest in a group covering individual Space Shuttle missions, covers the final (?) servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope from initial planning stages to Atlantis' return to Earth.

The book is divided into 20 "chapters":


  • Introduction
  • The Grandest of the Great Observatories: history and an overview of NASA's four space-based “observatories”
  • The Hubble Space Telescope: an overview of the complete system
  • Science Instruments: an overview of the cameras and other science packages installed on Hubble over its operational life
  • Hubble Operations: how the system works, with lots of pictures from inside and outside the solar system
  • Deployment - STS-31R
  • Servicing Mission 1 - STS-61: upgrading components and applying corrective optics for the flawed main mirror
  • Servicing Mission 2 - STS-82
  • Servicing Mission 3 - STS-103
  • Servicing Mission 3, Redux - STS-109
  • Cancellation and Reinstatement: a look at the decision to cancell the final servicing mission after the Columbia disaster, and the subsequent outcry that led to reinstatement
  • Servicing Mission 4 - STS-125: An overview of the mission and crew chosen
  • Crew Training
  • KSC Processing: Getting Shuttle Atlantis and payload ready to launch
  • Hubble in Trouble: STS-125 On Hold: a computer malfunction in orbit delays the mission
  • Launch-On-Need - STS-400: preparing for a possible rescue mission
  • Finally, Launch: Getting Atlantis into space from liftoff to recovering the SRBs
  • Repairing Hubble: The meat of the mission
  • A Slight Detour: landing at Edwards AFB and the shuttle's ferry flight back to KSC
  • Epilog - Changing Astronomy: Hubble's legacy

The book does not try to be a comprehensive look at either the Shuttle or Hubble. Rather, it's a fairly detailed look at one shuttle mission. Most chapters are prefaced by a page or two of explanatory text, followed by lots of photos with detailed captions (the exceptions being the early sections outlining the program and equipment). The text is clear, concise and easy to follow - by know the authors have a number of books under their belt and they're good at this.

The pictures ....

The pictures are what make this book worth every penny. The book is filled with every conceivable shot - from the NASA propaganda stills to the rarely seen technical details. Want to know what the “top” of the SRB/ET stack looks like without the Orbiter in the way? It's there. Did Cutting Edge get the color of the thermal tiles underneath the Orbiter right when they printed their decals? Yes - if anything, they're not grey enough. Hubble is seen in it's original configuration straight through to its latest, during assembly, loading and in space. Especially noteworthy is the variety - and number - of images of the Shuttle interior, the astronauts' space suits, the payload bay and robotic arm.


As with every other Specialty Press title I've read, this book is a treasure trove of information. If you have any interest at all in the subject matter it is well worth picking up.

Highly recommended

Many thanks to Specialty Press for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 6000+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2009 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 12 January 2009.