The STS-109 crew of seven waved to onlookers as they emerged from the Operations and Checkout Buildings at Kennedy Space Flight Center eager to get to the launch pad to embark upon the Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia's 27th flight into space. Crew members included, from front to back, Duane G. Carey (left) and Scott D. Altman (right); Nancy J. Currie, mission specialist; John M. Grunsfield (left), payload commander, and Richard M. Linneham (right); James H. Newman (left) and Michael J. Massimino (right), all mission specialists. Launched March 1, 2002, the goal of the mission was the maintenance and upgrade of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The Marshall Space Flight Center had the responsibility for the design, development, and construction of the HST, which is the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. By using Columbia's robotic arm, the telescope was captured and secured on a work stand in Columbia's payload bay where four members of the crew performed five spacewalks to complete system upgrades to the HST. Lasting 10 days, 22 hours, and 11 minutes, the STS-109 mission was the 108th flight overall in NASA's Space Shuttle Program.