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Hubble Repair Mission Astronauts Visit Museum

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Astronaut John Grunsfeld performs work on the Hubble Space Telescope. © NASA 2009

On Tuesday, the Museum got a visit from some of the stars of its newest exhibition.

NASA astronauts Michael Massimino and John Grunsfeld, crew members on mission STS-125 to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, joined Curator Michael Shara for a Q&A in the Cullman Hall of the Universe on Tuesday, November 15. The astronauts’ repair mission is featured in one of the dioramas of the Museum’s special exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, which opens Saturday, November 19, and is curated by Dr. Shara.

Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson emceed the event and fielded questions from the audience and Twitter as over 1,000 viewers tuned into the live stream of the Q&A on

The two astronauts shared stories from their space adventures, including what it was like to repair the camera on the Hubble telescope, to train in environments as extreme as the desert and the world’s largest swimming pool, and to watch Star Trek in space when inclement weather delayed their return to Earth. On a scale of 1 to 10, Grunsfeld rated getting to space at a difficulty of 10 but being in space at a 0 or 1. “It’s so magical and so much fun that I’d like to be there all the time,” he said. Massimino noted the infectious grin his fellow astronaut wore while in space.

Shara, an astrophysicist who uses the Hubble telescope in his research, discussed other not-so-faraway possibilities for space exploration, including a lunar elevator that would connect the Moon and the Earth. Of the prospect of sending humans to Mars, Shara reminded the audience of the need for nerve and for vision. “If we decide that this is something important to do, we can do it,” he said.