On October 6, Neil deGrasse Tyson shared many of his initial reactions to the film Gravity. One of them offered his confusion as to “Why Bullock, a medical Doctor, is servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.”
Tyson has since made it clear he enjoyed the film and reflects that the film gets so much right that it has earned criticism. I agree. My comments on the inter-vehicle travel physics are here. Additionally, I think Tyson gets so much right that he likewise has probably earned a bit of (loving) criticism.
Fifteen people have done EVAs during five different shuttle missions to service the hubble telescope. Three of the fifteen seem as unlikely as Bullock. It seems she is not the first medical doctor to service the telescope!
- Story Musgrave, STS-61, Medical Doctor
- Richard Linnehan, STS-109, PhD, Veterinary Medicine
- Andrew Feustel, STS-125, PhD, Geology
The other twelve people to have done an EVA to service the Hubble have held a degree in physics, astrophysics, engineering, or mathematics.
I think the far more unlikely character is George Clooney’s. I can only think of 8 mission commanders who ever did an EVA. They were all visiting the moon or living at a Skylab, not using a shuttle.