Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Atlantis takes off for Hubble telescope

Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts-off at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canveral, Fla, on Monday, May 11, 2009. Space Shuttle Atlantis' seven-member crew are on a final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Space shuttle Atlantis took off yesterday on its way to the Hubble space telescope. Atlantis and seven astronauts blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a mission that has more risks than usual.

It is Nasa’s final trip to Hubble and comes after a seven-month delay. Atlantis and its crew were supposed to fly to Hubble last autumn, but the telescope broke down.

The telescope is in need of new equipment and repairs, and the shuttle should arrive at the orbiting observatory on Wednesday.

The billion-dollar repair job will feature five spacewalks. Astronauts will install new cameras, batteries and gyroscopes, and try to fix two broken scientific instruments.

In the 18 years since Hubble was launched, the space telescope has astounded scientists and the public with its amazing views of the nearest as well as the most distant objects in the visible universe. It has lasted so long precisely because it was designed to be repaired and serviced.

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