[/caption]After today’s Flight Readiness Review for space shuttle Atlantis’ STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, mission managers unanimously agreed to set May 11 at 2:01 p.m. EDT as the launch date. This long awaited flight will repair and upgrade Hubble, likely the most significant satellite ever launched. And, for the space shuttle, it’s a final visit to a dear, old friend.
During the 11-day mission’s five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014.
In addition to the originally scheduled work, Atlantis also will carry a replacement Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit for Hubble. Astronauts will install the unit on the telescope, removing the one that stopped working on Sept. 27, 2008, delaying this servicing mission until the replacement was ready.
Veteran astronaut Scott Altman will command the final space shuttle mission to service NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, and retired Navy Capt. Gregory C. Johnson will serve as pilot. Mission specialists rounding out the crew are: veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.