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	Cory Doctorow
		POSTED AT  3:41 AM December 10, 2009
		Science •

astronauts •
eva •
history •
space •

		Astronaut catches a satellite

On November 14th, 1984, astronaut Dale Gardner used a Manned
Maneuvering Unit to travel, untethered, from the Space Shuttle to the
Westar 6 satellite. And caught it. And serviced it. And came home,
safe and sound.

Astronaut Dale Gardner using MMU to travel to Westar VI satellite

(via Fogonazos)

Previously:Hello space, my old friend - Boing Boing
Boomerangs in space - Boing Boing
Tracking orbital trash - Boing Boing
Yuri's Night: spacemen branded me with Yuri Gagarin's head ...
Astronaut-guided video tour of the International Space Station ...
Hi-rez lunar astronaut portrait scans - Boing Boing
Astronaut describes what space smells like - Boing Boing
Boing Boing: Astronaut's tools
Fake astronaut scams all of India - Boing Boing



        Leave a comment


                    | #1 | 04:06 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            That is so badass, like the science fiction I read as a
kid. Do they do the untethered thing at all anymore?



                    | #2 | 04:33 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            Look at that Manned Maneuvering Unit servicing the Westar
6.  Just look at it.



                    | #3 | 04:40 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            He tried the old 'it followed me home, can I keep it' line
on the crew, but they didn't buy it.



                    | #4 | 04:47 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            Actually these days they would use the Canadarm to catch
it and bring it into the cargo bay for repairs.



                    | #5 | 05:00 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            The MMU was retired right after this mission.


                     replied to comment from efergus3

                    | #6 | 05:35 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            They used the Canadarm then too.

Ahh 1984, back when space still looked cool.  Jetpacks.  Honest to god
spaceships that not only put things up, but also brought things down. 
Repairmen in space.  Now manned spaceflight looks like a goddamn retro
revival knockoff of the 1960s.

Give me the damn robots on Mars.



                    | #7 | 05:49 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            Some more info here:


                     replied to comment from coaxial

                    | #8 | 06:15 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            The astronaut attached that round portion on the bottom,
then the arm grabbed that piece and reeled it in. He also stopped the
rotation otherwise the arm would have caused a lot of damage trying to
grab it.



                    | #9 | 06:21 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            "What do you do for a living?"
"Well, I work as a senior accountant for a multinational. How about
"I catch satellites in space and bring them back to life."
"Oh......that's nice."



                    | #10 | 06:51 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply




                    | #11 | 07:27 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            Here's video of Dale's spacewalk:



                    | #12 | 07:52 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            I'm generally not a phobic person, but thinking about
these untethered space walks gives me the heebie-jeebies like nobody's
business. Maybe too many viewings of 2001 as a kid?



                    | #13 | 08:20 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            Thats a hell of a catch,  beats the pants off of anything
professional athletes could do IMO. It does seem like we've hit the
high water mark when it comes to space travel, and in recent years
we've been receding.  I prefer to think of it as the ocean surf, we
may be receding now, but we will come back stronger than ever.  Being
a sci-fi junkie I have high hopes for technology and space travel,
that we will be living in space soon (either in orbit or on the moon)
and making our way to mars and beyond.  Centuries from now, we could
be vacationing on the rings of saturn!



                    | #14 | 09:11 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            What?  No photos of him "servicing it"?  No space pron for
today, it seems.

                                Fred H


                    | #15 | 09:46 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            In Soviet Union, satellite catches you!



                    | #16 | 10:13 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            I don't think we're receding.  The final Hubble service
mission was amazing.  They opened a computer case, that was never
designed to be opened in space, and replaced circuit boards.  They
applied an extraordinary hack to run power to a component through a
channel that wasn't designed for that purpose, but happened to be
available.  And dozens of other incredible repairs on a rather awesome
piece of equipment.

                                Bryan C


                    | #17 | 11:06 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            The MMU ruled. Yet it was retired because it was "too
risky". Yeah, we wouldn't want spaceflight to be risky. Somebody might
get the idea that it's dangerous. 

I've always wondered if the outcome for the Columbia would've been
different if they'd had an MMU on board, especially since they did not
have a Canadarm, either. It seems to me that having one would've
encouraged a more thorough inspection, and it may have made the repair
option more practical. 


                     replied to comment from toilet

                    | #18 | 11:35 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            spacewalking is bananas!



                    | #19 | 12:10 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            SCIFI! NO! It's SF!

                                Ito Kagehisa


                    | #20 | 13:09 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            Ah, the Westar/Palapa B incident.  Generated about a
thousand hours of work for me, I bet.

The "stinger" used to de-spin the bird effectively destroyed the
nozzle throat (by design) which allowed NASA to blame Hitco's
carbon-carbon technology for the failure of the kick motor.

I vividly remember the painful process of writing overlay descriptor
files for TKB.  No, wait, that's just the pain I'm remembering,
actually, I have purposely forgotten how to manually manage physical
memory for real-time digital data acquisition at compile time.  Hooray
for OS virtual memory management, thank you Ken Olsen!!!

And hooray for Dale Gardner!  I didn't like the mission they gave him
but he performed it well. 



                    | #21 | 19:13 on Thu, Dec.10

                    | Reply

            1984.  That was 25 years ago.

In the 25 years before 1984, we made huge strides in manned space
exploration: we went from having NO manned space program, to landing
on the moon, to setting up space stations and a space shuttle program.

In the 25 years after 1984, we've been barely treading water.

It's all very sad.

                                Michael Smith

                     replied to comment from DelicateFlower

                    | #22 | 00:42 on Fri, Dec.11

                    | Reply

            I was taken to see both Dr Strangelove and 2001 as a child
(I as born in 1965) and while both films no doubt did strange things
to my psyche, I am not afraid of heights at all.

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