Feeds

Atlantis blasts off for final Hubble repair job

One more for the road

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

After nearly seven years of delays, NASA's fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 2:01 EDT (18:01 GMT) today.

The crew aboard space shuttle Atlantis mission STS-125 are scheduled to perform a series of five spacewalks beginning Thursday, giving the aging space kit an expected additional five years of quality peeping on the universe.

Photo credit: NASA/Fletcher Hildreth

Among the repairs, the spacewalks will see the installation of the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Wide Field Camera 3 (details here) and the replacement of the telescope's busted data relay unit.

Although technically the fifth servicing flight to the telescope, the mission is being referred internally as "Servicing Mission 4" (NASA counts the last two fixes as 3A and 3B).

The fate of the telescope's final repair job was originally thrown into doubt after the tragic loss of shuttle Columbia and its crew in 2003. When undetected wing damage during launch was found to be the cause of the disaster, NASA enacted new safety protocols requiring all manned flights to be able to reach the International Space Station for a safe haven in the event of any problems.

NASA officials eventually said that a mission to Hubble could be run safely — so long as a second shuttle was placed on standby for rescue. As Atlantis blasted off Monday, a four-member crew for shuttle Endeavour stood by on alert.

The telescope's final servicing mission was also delayed by its Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit breaking down in September 2008, requiring NASA to cook up a replacement.

Once Atlantis returns planet-side, Endeavour will squeeze into pad 39A for mission STS-127 to the International Space Station, scheduled for a mid-June launch. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.