Astronauts Grunsfeld, Altman reflect on Nasa shuttle flight

John Grunsfeld visits Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA’s shuttle Atlantis is getting ready for its final liftoff Friday, but the weather could be a problem.

ABC7’s Leon Harris spoke to two NASA astronauts who have taken a shuttle ride to space.

In its 30 years, NASA’s space shuttle program has taken 848 astronauts into space. Atlantis will take four more for the last time Friday.

For former astronaut John Grunsfeld, a visit to Goddard Space Flight Center brings back memories of “riding on the end of the robotic arm changing out one of the batteries on Hubble,” he says.

Around NASA, he's known as the last man to touch the Hubble telescope.

“I was extremely fortunate being an astrophysicist, an astronomer, that my first mission in 1995, was to go up in the space shuttle with telescope,” Grunsfeld said. He would eventually complete five missions into space.

As the decades-old space shuttle mission draws to a close, Grunsfeld and fellow astronaut Scott Altman recall their favorite moments as well as the program's sometimes troubled history.

“Of course my favorite, the Hubble space telescope, the most amazing scientific instrument ever created by people and it was because of the space shuttle we could do that,” said

“We've had two accidents and lost 14 astronauts with the shuttle,” says Altman.

Altman looks forward enjoying the final shuttle launch as a spectator, he said.

“It's the first chance I'll ever have to watch a launch with my wife next to me instead of her watching the shuttle take off with me in it,” Altman said.

“We want to go to places again, you know the moon, mars, different planets,” he said. “You need a different vehicle to do that so it's time to expand capabilities and move on”

They plan to continue sharing their passion with the next generation.

“Every night kids and adults go out side look up at the skies and wonder what's out there, and we want to go,” Altman said.

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