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Space Shuttle Atlantis lands safely at Edwards Air Force Base

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Space Shuttle Atlantis has landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Atlantis landed at approximately 11:39 a.m. (EDT).

Atlantis had spent just under thirteen days in space. Its mission, STS-125, was to make the final repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope before the shuttle fleet is retired. Over the course of the mission’s five spacewalks, the crew added two new science instruments, repaired two others and replaced hardware that will extend the telescope's life at least through 2014.

Atlantis arrived at Hubble on May 13. The crew performed five spacewalks on five consecutive days to repair and upgrade the telescope. Taking a total of almost thirty-seven hours of spacewalks, the repairs were one of the most extensive set of spacewalks on a single mission.

The landing was scrubbed twice after bad weather forced NASA to land Atlantis at Edwards AFB. Atlantis was originally scheduled to land on Thursday. The shuttle is scheduled to be transported back to Florida's Kennedy Space Center on the back of a modified Boeing 747 next week. It will cost NASA US$2 million to transport the shuttle.

The mission almost did not occur. First, after the Columbia disaster, there was extensive worry about whether a mission to Hubble made sense given that it would force the shuttle into an orbit in which the crew could not be easily rescued or rendevous with the International Space Station. There was also debate over whether the cost of the repairs would be worth the expense of the mission.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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