Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hubble Space Telescope Repaired for Last Time

Repaired Hubble relaunched from shuttle
[...] "Houston, Hubble has been released, it's safely back on its journey of exploration as we begin steps to conclude ours," Altman said.

Hubble's protective aperture door was opened a few minutes before deploy, at 8:33 a.m. EDT, allowing starlight to once again fall on its famously flawed 94.5-inch primary mirror. But engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and the Space Telescope Operations Control Center at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will need most of the summer to test and calibrate Hubble's new and refurbished instruments and subsystems.

If all goes well, the first pictures from the upgraded telescope will be released in early September.

The release marked a bittersweet moment for NASA and for Hubble fans as the telescope receded into the dark of space, disappearing from view for the last time. With the shuttle program facing retirement after eight more space station assembly flights, no more Hubble visits are currently planned. And no one will set eyes on the telescope again until a final mission, presumably robotic, to drive it out of orbit sometime in the late 2010s or the 2020s. [...]

The article offers sentimental comments from the crew, including a self-described "Hubble Hugger", who worked on prior Hubble missions.

Upgraded Hubble flies solo again
This article also links to a gallery of the Photos taken by the Hubble Telescope.

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