Hubble Released from Atlantis Today

Astronaut John Grunsfeld, positioned on a foot restraint on the end of Atlantis' remote manipulator system on Monday.  Image Credit:  NASA

Astronaut John Grunsfeld, positioned on a foot restraint on the end of Atlantis' remote manipulator system on Monday. Image Credit: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope, repaired and refurbished, was released from the space shuttle Atlantis today.  Engineers will need most of the summer to test and calibrate Hubble’s new and refurbished instruments and systems. If the testing goes well, the first pictures from the upgraded telescope will be released in early September.

With Hubble released, Atlantis is scheduled to land on Friday.  But, Atlantis must be inspected to make sure it has not been hit by space junk. Hubble’s orbit had placed the shuttle at increased risk of damage.  Also, given Hubble’s orbit, astronauts could not escape to the International Space Station if Atlantis was damaged.  So, for the safety of the crew, NASA kept the space shuttle Endeavour on standby until the end of the 11-day mission.  For more information about the Atlantis mission, see here.

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