Hubble Service Call Launch May Be Moved Up
The launch for NASA's
latest mission to the Hubble Space Telescope may be moved up by a day, NASA
officials said April 23. Instead of the scheduled May 12 launch, the trip to
the Hubble is likely to go off on May 11 to avoid a conflicting military launch
The earlier date gives the space shuttle Atlantis a three-day window for the launch before having to delay until to May 22 due to the conflict with the military operation. NASA said a final decision on the earlier launch will be made next week.
"I feel fairly confident that we can make a May 11 launch date," LeRoy Cain, NASA's deputy shuttle program manager, told reporters during a briefing.
The Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts originally planned to visit the Hubble in October 2008, but the space telescope began to develop glitches in its software. Since the flight was scratched, Hubble has been getting by with a backup computer.
When Atlantis returns to Hubble, astronauts plan five space walks to install various gear and instruments to extend the operational life of the space telescope for at least another five years. The flight will also be the last scheduled mission of the space shuttle to the Hubble.
NASA plans to retire the shuttle fleet in September 2010, and all remaining flights are dedicated to completing the build-out of the International Space Station.