Project Police Officer Saves Hubble Space Telescope

Russ Erb

Originally published April 1997

EAA Chapter 1000 Charter Member and Tri-Q-200 pilot Scott "Doc" Horowitz (who also happens to be a NASA Astronaut) recently returned from a Space Shuttle mission to do maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope. (Interesting career progression, Scott--Pilot, then Test Pilot, then Astronaut, then Maintenance Worker. If we accept that this is a progression, that says something very interesting for where maintenance falls in the food chain. Think about that, pilots!) Project Police sources have revealed that this was merely a cover story and secondary mission. The primary mission was for Doc to obtain some critical pre-mission recce for Operation Rubidoux Sundown V. We assume the information obtained was very valuable to the resulting raid, inasmuch as my billet did not have the required need-to-know to have access to such highly classified Project Police intelligence.

Doc noted that he was unable to determine Norm Howell's progress on the Berkut because, like the former Soviets, Norm kept it hidden in the hangar for the whole mission.

In the course of a routine Project Police inspection of the Hubble Space Telescope, Doc found numerous discrepancies. As the original builders were not available to jack up against the wall and refer to as "Jocko," Doc took matters into his own gloves. As reported in the 22 February 1997 Daily News story by Christopher Noxon:

Scott Horowitz always knew that arts and crafts would come in handy someday.
After safely piloting space shuttle Discovery back to Earth early Friday, the astronaut described how he found himself using skills learned at Acacia Elementary School in Thousand Oaks during a crucial moment of the 10-day voyage.
Called upon Sunday to repair the tattered lining of the Hubble Space Telescope, Horowitz fashioned together a large foil patch made of materials from a standard repair kit. His improvised handiwork is now protecting delicate mechanics on the $2 billion satellite.
"The highlight of the whole mission was putting together material with my own hands," "Doc" Horowitz said during a post-flight news conference from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. "I love building stuff anyway, so I was like a kid in a candy store."
But Horowitz relied on more elementary skills when astronauts brought the Hubble aboard and discovered that large swaths of the telescope's thermal insulation had been damaged by seven years of exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Horowitz patched the cracked and bubbled lining using squares of Mylar, strips of Velcro, and few lengths of string and a handful of clips.
"It was pretty amazing," said Horowitz...."Stuff I made is out there on the telescope."

The Project Police suspect that the whole story was not told due to the lack of background possessed by your average newspaper reporter. While led to believe that it was skills gained in elementary school that allowed Doc to save the telescope, we suspect that it was really skills gained as a Tri-Q-200 homebuilder and Project Police officer. The Project Police did note the obvious absence of any mention of duct tape, epoxy resin, squeezing of rivets with Vise-Grip pliers, or an estimated 150' radius of destruction. Did anybody post flight the Shuttle for damage after the mission? Were the main gear wheels still in their proper location?

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Revised -- 21 September 1997