May 21, 2009--
NASA's space shuttle Atlantis launched
from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on May 11, 2009, for the last manned mission to improve and repair the Hubble Space Telescope
The seven-member crew, slated to return to Earth on Friday, successfully completed their ambitious to-do list for the 11-day mission, which included installing two new science instruments and repairing two ailing ones.
The repairs were tricky, though, because the individual instruments aboard the 19-year-old observatory had not been designed to be fixed in space.
"If we actually repair the two broken instruments ... we'll have the best Hubble ever--there's no question," Edward Weiler, who leads NASA's science division, had said before the launch.
Photograph courtesy NASA