The astronauts that performed the recent spectacular servicing on the Hubble Space Telescope, came to visit our workplace, the Space Telescope Science Institute, on July 21, 2009.
I have never seen the Institute’s staff so excited, nor have I ever seen our cafeteria so packed. Staff members brought their families, to share in the moment. The crew members were as wonderful as always: friendly, humorous, smart, and just so cool. Commander Scott “Scooter” Altman, with his usual generosity, told me: “You are the people who do the real work with this telescope, we are so grateful that you have allowed us to be a part of this.”
“Sure,” I replied, “but we don’t risk our lives for this work. We are the ones who are truly grateful.”
The presentations, the pictures, the autographs, the hand shakes, all passed almost too quickly. Einstein taught us that time is relative. When you are in good company, even six hours feel like five minutes.
And then it was time for them to leave. Megan McArthur and I hugged. I was thinking of something to say, and then she said: “Until next time.”
“Indeed,” I was happy to confirm. For some reason there were tears in my eyes.