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Hubble repair mission rescheduled for May 2009


NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in orbit. Photo credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (BNS): US space agency NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope which was scheduled to take off in September last, will now be launched on May 12, 2009.

Making an announcement to this effect in Houston on Thursday, NASA Mission managers said STS-125 will take off on an 11-day flight on May 12, 2009 and feature five spacewalks. The mission aims at extending the Hubble's life into the next decade by refurbishing and upgrading the telescope with state-of-the-art science instruments and swapping failed hardware.

The final servicing mission to Hubble was delayed in September when a data handling unit on the telescope failed. Since then, engineers have been working to prepare a spare for the flight. NASA is hopeful to ship the spare, known as the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling System, to Kennedy Space Center in Florida in spring 2009.

Scott Altman will command STS-125, with Gregory C. Johnson serving as pilot. Mission specialists include veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.

Unveiling its future agenda, NASA said the next space shuttle mission, STS-119, is scheduled for launch on February 12, 2009.

Preparations are also going on for the STS-127 mission, currently targeted for launch in May 2009. That launch will be further assessed and coordinated with the international partners at a later date. "Launch of STS-128 and STS -129 are scheduled for August and November 2009," NASA said, adding that all target launch dates are subject to last-minute changes.

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