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Grand Opening Today

August 12, 1999 ::

Chandra X-ray Observatory Sketch
A sketch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory & its Sunshade Door.
Illustration: CXC/NGST
Sometime this afternoon, the front door to the Chandra Observatory will spring open, heralding a new era in astronomy. When the door opens, the Chandra team will begin the final phase of engineering studies in preparation for making the first astronomical observations which should begin about a week later.

Yesterday morning, Chandra's penultimate door opening happened at 10:52 EDT. It was the latest scene in a drama that has been unfolding for two decades. Top Chandra scientists and managers monitored the opening of the aft contamination cover of the mirror assembly from the Action Room.

OCC Action Room
Working hard in the Action Room, at the OCC.
Photo: CXC
In response to remote commands from the Flight Operator at the Chandra Center in Cambridge, MA, an onboard heater melted wax in an actuator, forcing a pin to move and release the door.

"Very good!" said a smiling Leon Van Speybroeck, Chandra telescope scientist from Harvard-Smithsonian, when the signal came that the cover was out of the way.

Now the stage is set for today's grand opening...

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