Launch date set for fifth Hubble servicing mission
The launch date for the fifth and final servicing mission to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has officially been set to 10 September 2008.
During the 11-day flight, originally termed Servicing Mission 4, the seven-astronaut crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis will repair and improve the observatory’s capabilities through 2013.
Mission planners have been working since autumn last year, when the flight was first announced, to determine the best time in the Shuttle manifest to support the needs of Hubble whilst minimising the impact on the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA will also support a 'launch on need' flight during the Hubble mission. In the unlikely event that a rescue flight becomes necessary, Shuttle Endeavour is currently planned to lift off from Launch Pad 39-B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA. However, managers are constantly evaluating the manifest to determine the best mission options.
Space Shuttle missions beyond the Hubble servicing flight are still being assessed. Shuttle and ISS programme officials will continue to consider options for the remainder of the Shuttle flights in order to complete construction of the ISS by 2010 when the Shuttle will be retired. Those launch dates are subject to change.
Notes for editors:
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA.
For more information:
Lars Lindberg Christensen, Hubble/ESA, Garching, Germany
E-mail: lars @ eso.org