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NASA Launches Hubble Rescue Mission

Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off on a mission to service telescope for the last time; panel to consider the future of human space flight

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
May 12, 2009

Credit: NASA
Shuttle Atlantis launched on May 11 on a mission to service the Hubble Telescope.
Credit: NASA
Shuttle Atlantis launched on May 11 on a mission to service the Hubble Telescope.

After the successful launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on May 11, astronauts are set to begin what will be the final 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.

"Hubble has a long history of providing outstanding science and beautiful pictures," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "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."

Meanwhile, the Office of Science and 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're aiming 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 Augustine will lead the panel, with the remaining panelists still to be selected.


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