Musgrave had been assigned to Shuttle EVA development issues in 1972 and had worked on Hubble servicing by Space Shuttle crews for about seventeen years. So it was obvious that, when the Hubble Space Telescope experienced the failure in its mirror focusing, the first servicing mission would involve the installation of corrective optics and other tasks, Musgrave would work on developing the EVA programme for the flight. On 16 March 1992, three months after returning from STS-44, Story Musgrave was assigned to his fifth space flight as payload commander for STS-61, the first Hubble Service Mission. Tom Akers, Jeff Hoffman and Kathy Thornton were named as the other three EVA mission specialists for the mission in August 1992. Like Musgrave, they all had previous EVA experience. The commander (Dick Covey), pilot (Ken Bowersox) and MS 2/FE (ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier) were named
later. Due to the complexity of the mission, NASA assigned a back-up EVA astronaut with previous EVA experience (Greg Harbaugh) to the flight to support the crew in their preparations and to replace an injured crewmember should the need arise. Fortunately this option was not required, but Harbaugh's work and input were of considerable assistance to the prime crew, helping them to master all their tasks on time.
As payload commander (PC), Musgrave had overall responsibility for the planning, integration and on-orbit coordination of all payload/Shuttle activities on the assigned mission, while the flight commander retained overall responsibility for mission success and safety. In working as a PC, Musgrave also continued to identify training issues and operating constraints prior to and during the training process. The role of PC was seen by NASA (in the early 1990s) as a foundation for the development of the Space Station mission commander concept. Musgrave, the former aviation electrician and aircraft crew chief turned mathematician, doctor and astronaut, was once asked why he gave up being a surgeon to become an astronaut. He quickly replied with a wide smile, ''Why, so I could operate on the Hubble of course!''
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