NASA today said that it will send its Atlantis space shuttle on a mission to repair the Hubble space telescope. The planned launch date is May 12, 2009.
The final servicing mission to Hubble was delayed in September when a data handling unit on the telescope failed. Since then, engineers have been working to prepare a spare for flight. They expect to be able to ship the spare, known as the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling System, to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in spring 2009.
Mission STS-125 is expected to be a 11-day flight and will include five spacewalks. The organization hopes that it can extend Hubble's life into the next decade by “refurbishing and upgrading the telescope with state-of-the-art science instruments and swapping failed hardware.”
The next space shuttle mission, STS-119, is targeted for launch on Feb. 12, 2009 and will have the International Space Station (ISS) as its destination. STS-127 is planned for May 2009 as well, and will be followed by STS-128 in August and STS-129 in November of next year.