In his own words: Mike Massimino on how he "nearly broke" Hubble
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
05-09-2013 11:14 CDT
In an enthralling article for Esquire magazine, astronaut Mike Massimino writes about nearly failing to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and how the people of Earth came to his rescue. Here's an excerpt:
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.
I felt this deep loneliness. And it wasn’t just a Saturday-afternoon-with-a-book alone. I felt detached from the Earth. I felt that I was by myself, and everything that I knew and loved and that made me feel comfortable was far away. And then it started getting dark and cold.
Because we travel 17,500 miles an hour, ninety minutes is one lap around the Earth. So it’s forty-five minutes of sunlight and forty-five minutes of darkness. And when you enter the darkness, it is not just darkness. It’s the darkest black I have ever experienced. It’s the complete absence of light. It gets cold, and I could feel that coldness, and I could sense the darkness coming. And it just added to my loneliness.