Handprints on Hubble
(c) 2019 Kathryn D. Sullivan
Handprints on Hubble is a unique astronaut memoir, in part because Dr. Sullivan is a scientist first and an astronaut second. Longing to explore, she began her academic life in oceanography before realizing the opportunities the Space Program might offer her. She joined in the class of the Thirty Five New Guys, as the Shuttle Transport System was still being finalized: one of her early projects was to help create the launch checklist for shuttle missions, in fact. When dreams of a large space telescope began to be realized, she was involved extensively in helping figure out how it could be made maintainable by astronauts working in space — developing and practicing procedures and tools that could be applied on a spacewalk. Sullivan lost several friends and classmates when Challenger was destroyed, but the two-year suspension of activity allowed the Hubble team more time to better improve Hubble’s prospects for long-term maintenance. Sullivan was with the team that launched Hubble itself, though she missed the first repair flight, since she’d started transitioning into a career at NOAA as its chief scientist. is more about technical development, engineering, and science than it is a biography or gossipy history of NASA, but it can’t be beaten for someone interested in the development of Hubble — which has only recently been surpassed by the Webb telescope.