Fri, May 23, 2008
Hubble Mission Will Lift Off October 8; Atlantis To
On Thursday, NASA
officially adjusted the target launch dates for two space shuttle
missions in 2008. Atlantis' STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space
Telescope is now targeted for October 8, and Endeavour's STS-126
supply mission to the International Space Station has moved from
October 16 to November 10.
As ANN reported earlier this
month, the final servicing mission to Hubble was moved
from August 28 due to a delay in deliveries of components,
including the external fuel tanks, and the need to prepare
Endeavour for a possible rescue mission approximately two weeks
after STS-125 launches. Under the previous schedule, the fuel tank
for that rescue mission -- designated STS-400 -- would not have
been available in time.
Flights beyond STS-126 will be assessed and coordinated with
NASA's international partners at a later date. Both shuttle and
station program officials will continue to consider options for the
remainder of the shuttle flights, with those target launch dates
being subject to change.
Earlier plans had called for Atlantis to be retired following
the Hubble mission, as the vehicle is due to undergo a major
overhaul following STS-125 -- only to be retired along with the
rest of the fleet in September 2010. Atlantis was to serve as a
parts mule if needed for the two remaining shuttles in the
However, the Shuttle Program has since determined Atlantis will
be assigned two additional flights after the Hubble mission, in
order to more efficiently fly the remaining shuttle flights using
the three orbiters in sequence. This new plan might also
be due to optimism on NASA's part, that a bill now in the House of
Representatives to add three missions to the shuttle schedule -- and remove the 2010 retirement
deadline -- will be approved by lawmakers.
The third orbiter, Discovery, is scheduled to lift off May 31 on
a construction mission to the ISS.
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