Where: Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
May 11, 2009 : The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on a two day space journey to the Hubble Space Telescope. Seven astronauts were on board to service and repair the telescope. The Hubble Telescope is a space research tool that was put into orbit outside the earth’s atmosphere in 1990. It is one of the largest space telescopes in existence. Hubble is a cooperative project between USA’s NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the European Space Agency.
The Atlantis mission will last 11 days. Astronauts are in the process of performing five daily spacewalks to install two new instruments and repair two others. During the first of the spacewalks, the team successfully fitted a new camera and computer. During the servicing mission on the telescope, the astronauts will equip it with powerful imaging and spectrographic instruments.
Even though there is almost no chance that Atlantis will collide with space debris, the space shuttle Endeavour is on standby to ensure the safety of the astronauts. The present mission will extend Hubble’s operating lifetime for five additional years. It will make it possible for Hubble to search for the oldest and most distant galaxies. Hubble will also be able to map the large scale structure of the universe and study how planets form around other stars.