Space shuttle Atlantis captures Hubble telescope

Chicago (IL) – The Hubble telescope has reportedly been captured by the space shuttle Atlantis’ robotic arm.

“Using views from a camera centered in a structure where the telescope will be berthed, Hubble [will be lowered] into a special cradle, called the Flight Support System, or FSS, in Atlantis’ payload bay,” NASA explained in statement. “The telescope will be latched to the high-tech, lazy Susan-type device for the duration of the servicing work.”

The shuttle will be positioned to allow the collection of solar energy by Hubble’s panels. In addition, astronauts are expected to remotely connect an “umbilical” cord that will supply electrical power to the telescope.

Meanwhile, NASA engineers continue to examine images captured during Tuesday’s survey of Atlantis’ thermal protection system and exterior surfaces. During the inspection, mission managers observed a “single area of damage” on the forward part of the spacecraft where the wing blends into the fuselage. However, the damage is thought to be minor and “of no concern for the mission.”

As TG Daily previously reported (content/view/42417/184/), Atlantis astronauts have planned five spacewalks to replace and repair a number of items, including thermal blankets, gyroscopes, batteries and subsystems.

Hubble was placed into orbit by the Space Shuttle Discovery in April 1990. Since then, the telescope has undergone four servicing missions to repair various systems and flaws. However, the May spacewalks should allow Hubble to function until at least 2014, when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is due to be launched.

Atlantis lifted off at 2:01 p.m. EDT Monday from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. STS-125 is the 126th space shuttle flight, the 30th flight for Atlantis and the second flight in 2009.