NASA Managers Praise the STS-125 Mission and Crew
There are few missions in the history of the Space Shuttle
program that compare with that just completed -- STS-125 -- the
mission to rescue The Hubble Space Telescope. Space shuttle
Atlantis landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California at 11:39
a.m. EDT, Sunday morning, completing a 13-day journey of
approximately 5.3 million miles in space.
During a press conference held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in
Florida, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission
Directorate Ed Weiler said, "Now, and only now can we declare this
mission a total success -- the astronauts are safely on the
Weiler called NASA's Hubble Space Telescope the great comeback
story. He said the public continues to be captivated by the
telescope's images of the universe and he hopes to see Hubble
operate into its third decade of service.
NASA Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses agreed that this was
a fantastic mission. "It's good to have Atlantis back here on the
ground," said Moses. He also said the crew did a great job trying
to get the shuttle back to Kennedy, even though the weather
Mike Leinbach, NASA space shuttle launch director, congratulated
the STS-125 crew and also commended the crew members who were ready
and standing by in case space shuttle Endeavour was needed for a
The STS-125 mission was the 126th shuttle flight,
the 30th for Atlantis and the second of five planned for 2009.
Hubble was delivered to space on April 24, 1990, on the STS-31
mission. Atlantis' landing at Edwards was the
53rd shuttle landing to occur at the desert air base. Another 70
missions have concluded at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and
one at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.
Hubble has enabled a
number of ground-breaking discoveries during its time in orbit.
They include determining the age of the universe to be 13.7 billion
years; finding that virtually all major galaxies have black holes
at their center; discovering that the process of planetary
formation is relatively common; detecting the first-ever organic
molecule in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star; and
providing evidence the expansion of the universe is accelerating
because of an unknown force that makes up approximately 72 percent
of the matter-energy content in the universe.
With Atlantis and its crew safely home, the focus
will shift to the launch of STS-127, targeted for June 13.
Endeavour's 16-day flight will deliver a new station crew member
and complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency's Kibo laboratory. Astronauts will attach a platform to the
outside of the Japanese module that will serve as a type of "back
porch" for experiments that require direct exposure to
Altman: 'Thanks to Everyone'
Before leaving Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in
California, Commander Scott Altman spoke for his crew to thank
everyone for getting them safely back home.
"At last! I didn't realize it was going to be so hard to get
back to the Earth, landing here just felt great to everybody," said
"We're all thrilled to have the mission complete and it was a
testament to the teamwork and cooperation of folks all across the
country." The STS-125 astronauts will be honored with a welcome
home ceremony that will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Houston's