Fri, Jun 08, 2007
STS-125 Set To Lift Off In September 2008
NASA managers announced this week
the space agency is officially targeting September 10, 2008 for the
launch of STS-125, the fifth and final space shuttle servicing
mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight,
Atlantis' seven astronauts will repair and improve the
observatory's capabilities through 2013.
Mission planners have been working since last fall, when the
flight was announced, to determine the best time in the shuttle
manifest to support the needs of Hubble while minimizing the impact
to International Space Station assembly.
As ANN reported last year,
NASA reversed an earlier decision by former NASA Administrator Sean
O'Keefe that, in the wake of the 2003 loss of Columbia, a mission
to the telescope would be too risky.
To address concerns that no "lifeboat" option would be available
in the event of a calamity onboard Atlantis -- as Hubble's orbit is
too high for the shuttle to reach the International Space Station
-- NASA also will support a "launch on need" flight during the
Hubble mission. In the event a rescue flight becomes necessary,
shuttle Endeavour currently is planned to lift off from Launch Pad
39-B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL.
What it would do from there, however, is still up in the air.
Managers will continue to evaluate the manifest to determine the
best mission options, according to the agency.
Shuttle missions beyond the Hubble flight still are being
assessed. Shuttle and station program officials will continue to
consider options for the remainder of the shuttle flights to
complete construction of the space station by 2010, when the fleet
will be retired.
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