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5/18/2009
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Atlantis Astronauts Completing Hubble Repairs

The crew planned to install one of the panels Sunday, but they were unable to complete the task in time.

Atlantis astronauts are completing their fifth and final spacewalk on a mission to repair and service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Mission specialists John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel began the spacewalk at 8:20 a.m. EDT Monday and planned to spend nearly six hours outside the shuttle installing two or three protective thermal insulation panels, or New Outer Blanket Layers, on the telescope's bay doors.

The number of panels they install will depends on how quickly they move through the work. Mission Control will decide during the spacewalk whether the astronauts will install all three panels. The crew planned to install one of the panels Sunday, but they were unable to complete the task in time.

First, Grunsfeld and Feustel must remove existing insulation, which is held in place with clips and a wire loop. The new insulation will be held in place with latches and pressure-activated adhesive. The astronauts will use a roller to secure the adhesive.

The astronauts also are replacing the second of two battery modules, as well as the Hubble's fine guidance sensors. Each battery module weighs about 460 pounds and contains three batteries that power the telescope's night operations. The sensors pinpoint the position and movement of stars.

The Atlantis embarked on the 11-day mission so astronauts could ready the Hubble for another five years of operations. The Hubble launched 19 years ago. The voyage marks Atlantis' 30th mission.


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