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NASA Launches Hubble Service Mission

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
May 18, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 20

Credit: NASA
The shuttle Atlantis is on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
Credit: NASA
The shuttle Atlantis is on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

After the successful launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on May 11, astronauts have begun a series of spacewalks to service the 18-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. The astronaut's tasks include a camera installation and gyroscope replacement, improvements that NASA hopes will extend Hubble's life until 2014. "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," said Edward J. Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Meanwhile, the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) announced on May 7 that it will assemble a panel to review NASA's plans for future human space flight. Citing the need to "obtain a fresh assessment of America's human space flight program," OSTP officials say that, by August, they want to provide the Obama Administration with a review of the costs, safety considerations, and technology involved. The panel also plans to examine the possible extension of the International Space Station's operation beyond 2016. Former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman R. Augustine will lead the panel, with the rest of the panel still to be selected.


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