By David Brandt
Lately, Mike Massimino has been keeping an eye on the stars – from 350 miles above Earth. And if you follow him on Twitter, he’ll likely tell you all about it.
The New York-born astronaut, industrial engineer and Georgia Tech adjunct professor has been in space for several days this month as part of the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis making repairs and adjustments to the Hubble Space Telescope. It is the shuttle’s fifth and final servicing mission to the 19-year-old telescope.
According to a report from The Associated Press, Massimino has been sending messages through Twitter (www.twitter.com/Astro_mike) from aboard Atlantis. He is reportedly averaging about one tweet a day. And for the young social networking site, this event marks a first as no one before Massimino has ever posted “tweets” from space: “From orbit: Launch was awesome!! … The adventure of a lifetime has begun!”
During the mission, Massimino and fellow astronaut Mike Good – the pair were identified by some media outlets as “The Two Mikes” as well as “Mass” and “Bueño” by NASA Control – participated in a spacewalk where they worked on the telescope’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). They had to replace a low-voltage power supply board that contained a failed power converter. According to ABC News, the pair had to remove more than 110 screws to make the repair, a challenge when considering the trouble zero gravity can cause when removing tiny screws. One spacewalk took as long as eight hours because of the challenging tasks they were required to complete.
According to NASA, Massimino was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996. Prior to his first space flight assignment, he served in the Astronaut Office Robotics branch and in the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA or spacewalking) branch. In March 2002, he logged more than 10 days in space, including two spacewalks totaling 14 hours and 46 minutes.
The Hubble telescope was released from the shuttle Tuesday. Massimino and the rest of the Atlantis crew are expected to return to Earth on Friday.