NASA’s Shuttle Atlantis Launches on a Final Mission to HubbleMay 12th, 2009 - 1:39 am ICT by admin
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Atlantis with its seven-member crew launched at 2:01 p.m. EDT Monday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.
Atlantis’ 11-day mission will include five spacewalks to refurbish Hubble with state-of-the-art science instruments designed to improve the telescope’s discovery capabilities by up to 70 times while extending its lifetime through at least 2014.
Shortly before liftoff, Commander Scott Altman thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible.
“At last our launch has come along,” said Altman. “…Getting to this point has been challenging, but the whole team, everyone, has pulled together to take us into space.”
Altman is joined on STS-125 by Pilot Gregory C. Johnson and Mission Specialists Megan McArthur, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel and Michael Good. McArthur will serve as the flight engineer and lead for robotic arm operations while the remaining mission specialists pair up for the hands-on spacewalk work after Hubble is captured and secured in the payload bay. Altman, Grunsfeld and Massimino are space shuttle and Hubble mission veterans. Johnson, Feustel and Good are first-time space fliers.
The STS-125 mission is the 126th shuttle flight, the 30th for Atlantis and the second of five planned in 2009. Hubble was delivered to space on April 24, 1990, on the STS-31 mission. STS-125 is referred to as Servicing Mission 4, although it is technically the fifth servicing flight to the telescope.
“Hubble has a long history of providing outstanding science and beautiful pictures,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “If the servicing mission is successful, it will give us a telescope that will continue to astound both scientists and the public for many years to come.”
Among Hubble’s greatest discoveries is the age of the universe (13.7 billion years); the finding that virtually all major galaxies have black holes at their center; the discovery that the process of planetary formation is relatively common; the first ever organic molecule in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star; and evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating — caused by an unknown force that makes up approximately 72 percent of the matter-energy content of the universe.
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- Shuttle Discovery heads to International Space Station on its final mission - Feb 25, 2011
- NASA sets launch date for space shuttle Discovery mission - Feb 24 - Feb 19, 2011
- Weather 70 percent 'go' for space shuttle Endeavour launch - Apr 29, 2011
- NASA final shuttle launch scheduled for July 8 - May 21, 2011
- NASA transfers shuttle Discovery to museum - Apr 20, 2012
- Atlantis crew find damaged heat shield tiles - May 13, 2009
- Atlantis' landing ends final mission after 30 years of space shuttle era - Jul 21, 2011
- Space shuttle Endeavour returns to Earth after final mission - Jun 01, 2011
- Astronauts install device on Hubble to study cosmic origins - May 17, 2009
- NASA's space shuttle Endeavour docks with International Space Station - May 19, 2011
- NASA sets space shuttle Endeavour's final launch for April 29 - Apr 20, 2011
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