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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NASA Announces One Final Hubble Mission

Shuttle astronauts will make one final house call to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope as part of a mission to extend and improve the observatory's capabilities through 2013.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced plans for a fifth servicing mission to Hubble Tuesday during a meeting with agency employees at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Goddard is the agency center responsible for managing Hubble.

"We have conducted a detailed analysis of the performance and procedures necessary to carry out a successful Hubble repair mission over the course of the last three shuttle missions. What we have learned has convinced us that we are able to conduct a safe and effective servicing mission to Hubble," Griffin says. "While there is an inherent risk in all spaceflight activities, the desire to preserve a truly international asset like the Hubble Space Telescope makes doing this mission the right course of action."

The flight is tentatively targeted for launch during the spring to fall of 2008. Mission planners are working to determine the best location and vehicle in the manifest to support the needs of Hubble while minimizing impact to International Space Station assembly. The planners are investigating the best way to support a launch on need mission for the Hubble flight.

The present option will keep Launch Pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., available for such a rescue flight should it be necessary. Griffin also announced the astronauts selected for the mission.

Veteran astronaut Scott D. Altman will command the final space shuttle mission to Hubble. Navy Reserve Capt. Gregory C. Johnson will serve as pilot. Mission specialists include veteran spacewalkers John M. Grunsfeld and Michael J. Massimino and first-time space fliers Andrew J. Feustel, Michael T. Good and K. Megan McArthur.


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