Bay Area native helping with Hubble mission

May 11, 2009 12:06:38 PM PDT
Bay Area astronaut Megan McArthur is blasting off into an historic mission -- the last visit to the Hubble Observatory.

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NASA Ames Research Center opened up their exploration center for the public to watch the launch. Many brought children for a lesson in history, science and a local hero. McArthur attended Saint Francis High School in Mountain View.

"My daughter's went to St. Francis High School and that's where Megan is from. So we are here to support Megan and it's not far from my work so I came over to see it," said Kathy Osborne.

"I mean, its' a ride for her, for me, watching my daughter go up in a tunnel of fire," said Kit McArthur, astronaut's mother.

"The significance of this particular launch is that it is the last time we will be servicing the Hubble Telescope," said John Allmun, Program Fir., Ames shuttle operations.

NASA describes this trip as going for broke. With seven years of deferred maintenance to make up for, astronauts will bring new batteries and do unprecedented camera repairs. The hope is to keep the Hubble's window on the universe open for another five to 10 years. But this is also a dangerous mission. Bay Area astronaut Megan McArthur will be the one operating the robotic arm that will pluck the Hubble lab from orbit and steady it for five scheduled space walks.

"You can almost not believe how big this thing is and that its' moving and coming right for you," said Megan McArthur, astronaut.

McArthur's been training for this moment her whole life. Her dad was a flier in the Navy and the family was stationed at Moffett Field, where as a girl, she would watch the jets come and go. Her good luck charm is her dad's Navy wings. Fellow astronauts are also up to this mission's challenges and its memorable moments.

"I picture myself up there hanging on to it -- as its going across the sky and thinking about looking down on people looking up at me," Michael Good, astronaut.

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