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May 18, 2009

Hubble's final servicing mission

On Monday, May 11, after months of delays and preparation, NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center on the final servicing mission to the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The seven crew members left Florida for low Earth orbit at 2:01 pm, for a scheduled 11-day mission, including 5 days of Extra-vehicular activity (EVAs) to work on the Hubble. So far the repairs appear to be going very well - the final EVA is scheduled for today, and the landing planned for May 22nd. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch at Banana Creek viewing area, and wish to extend my gratitude to all the people at NASA. (Only one of the photos below is mine) (31 photos total)

Space Shuttle Atlantis rolls atop the crawler transporter out to launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on March 31, 2009 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

In the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crane holding space shuttle Atlantis rotates it toward a vertical position above the transfer aisle. The shuttle was lifted into High Bay 3 where it was attached to its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters on the mobile launcher platform. (NASA/Cory Huston) #

Under early morning light, space shuttle Atlantis makes its slow way to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building. The 3.4-mile trip took about seven-and-a-half hours. (NASA/Jack Pfaller) #

The space shuttle Atlantis sits on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 10, 2009. (REUTERS/Scott Audette) #

The sun sets behind the space shuttle Atlantis on May 10, 2009 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, one day before launch. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images) #

The tools that will be used to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope on the STS-125 mission are displayed in the NASA News Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At far right is the pistol grip tool. It can install and remove instruments, drive latches and open doors. A self-contained, high-torque drive, the tool features an on-board computer that permits users to tailor its performance to the mission demands. In the foreground are the card extraction and insertion tools to enable removal of electronic cards. At top center is the plastic version of the pistol grip tool used by astronauts during practice in the water tank at NASA's Johnson Space Center. At center left is the bit caddy. (NASA/Jack Pfaller) #

Space Shuttles Atlantis (l) and Endeavour sit on launch pads 39A and 39B at Kennedy Space Center April 17, 2009 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Matt Stroshane/Getty Images) #

NASA technicians are seen atop the external fuel tanks as the Space Shuttle Atlantis sits on launch pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center on May 10, 2009 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

Two NASA T-38 jet trainer aircraft fly over the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. After Atlantis leaves Pad A (out of frame), Endeavour will be moved from Pad B to Pad A to support the STS-127 mission. Currently, Endeavour is being prepared as a backup vehicle for Atlantis, and it will be designated STS-400 if in the unlikely event it's needed for a rescue flight. The two pictured aircraft were piloted by Jack Nickel (in jet with tail number 62, top) and Charles Justiz (in jet with tail number 24). (NASA) #

Space shuttle Atlantis crew, from right, commander Scott D. Altman, pilot Gregory C. Johnson, mission specialist, K. Megan McArthur, mission specialist John Grunsfeld and mission specialist Andrew Feustel, mission specialist Michael Good and mission specialist Michael Massimino, leave the Operations and Checkout building enroute to board the shuttle at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, May 11, 2009. (AP Photo/John Raoux) #

In the White Room on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-125 Mission Specialist Michael Good prepares to enter space shuttle Atlantis for launch. The White Room is at the end of the orbiter access arm on the fixed service structure and provides access into the shuttle. (NASA/Sandra Joseph-Kevin O'Connell) #

Space Shuttle Atlantis and its seven-member STS-125 crew head toward Earth orbit and rendezvous with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Liftoff was on time at 2:01 p.m. (EDT) on May 11, 2009 from launch pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (NASA) #

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center May 11, 2009. (Matt Stroshane/Getty Images) #

Space Shuttle Atlantis and its seven-member STS-125 crew head toward Earth orbit and rendezvous with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA) #

Several seconds after launch, Space Shuttle Atlantis climbs above its launch pad on May 11, 2009. (©Alan Taylor) #

45 seconds after launch, Space Shuttle Atlantis climbs away from its exhaust plume and launch pad at Kennedy Space Center May 11, 2009. (NASA) #

Solar panels on the Hubble Space Telescope make for some unique window shades in this scene photographed from the flight deck of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis. Just below the "shaded" pair of windows are panels of displays and controls very instrumental in the success of the work being done on the giant observatory. (NASA) #

The NASA space shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble Space Telescope are seen in silhouette, side by side during solar transit at 12:17p.m. EDT, on May 13, 2009, from west of Vero Beach, Florida in this image released by NASA May 14. The two spaceships were at an altitude of 600 km (375 miles) and they zipped across the sun in only 0.8 seconds. (REUTERS/Thierry Legault/NASA/Handout) #

Astronauts Megan McArthur, Mike Massimino (center) and Andrew Feustel, all STS-125 mission specialists, prepare to eat a meal on the middeck of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis. (NASA) #

An STS-125 crewmember onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis snapped a still photo of the Hubble Space Telescope as the two spacecraft approached each other in Earth orbit prior to the capture of the giant observatory. (NASA) #

Low-level winds rushing over the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of northwestern Africa created cloud vortex streets which share this scene with the top of the Hubble Space Telescope locked down in the cargo bay of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis. Photo taken on May 15, 2009. (NASA) #

An STS-125 crewmember onboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis snapped a still photo of the Hubble Space Telescope following grapple of the giant observatory by the shuttle's Canadian-built remote manipulator system. (NASA) #

Perched on the end of the Canadian-built remote manipulator system, astronaut Andrew Feustel, mission specialist, performs work on the Hubble Space Telescope as the first of five STS-125 spacewalks kicks off a week's work on the orbiting observatory. (NASA) #

Astronaut Michael Good handles a bundle of tools and equipment for use on the Hubble Space Telescope in the cargo bay of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis - part of a five-day agenda of spacewalking and work on the giant orbital observatory. (NASA) #

One of the crewmembers aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis snapped this photo of heavy cloud cover over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. (NASA) #

Astronaut John Grunsfeld holds onto a handrail as he performs work on the Hubble Space Telescope on May 14, 2009. Grunsfeld, a spacewalk veteran with a long relationship with the telescope, will participate in two of the remaining four sessions of extravehicular activity later in the mission. (NASA) #

With a mostly dark home planet behind him, astronaut Michael Good, STS-125 mission specialist, rides Atlantis' remote manipulator system arm to the exact position he needs to be to continue work on the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA) #

In this handout from NASA, Astronauts John Grunsfeld (l) and Andrew Feustel, both STS-125 mission specialists, give a thumbs-up sign on the middeck of Space Shuttle Atlantis following the mission's third session of extravehicular activity (EVA) May 16, 2009. (Photo NASA via Getty Images) #

Astronaut Andrew Feustel, STS-125 mission specialist, positioned on a foot restraint on the end of Atlantis' remote manipulator system (RMS), participates in the mission's third session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as work continues to refurbish and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA) #

In this close-up scene featuring astronaut John Grunsfeld performing a spacewalk to work on the Hubble Space Telescope, the reflection in his helmet visor shows astronaut Andrew Feustel taking the photo as he is perched on the end of the Canadian-built remote manipulator system arm. (NASA) #

 
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