Shuttle Atlantis begins mission to Hubble Space Telescope - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Shuttle Atlantis begins mission to Hubble Space Telescope

ADVISORY: The shuttle launch is scheduled for 11:01 a.m. Stay with KHQ.com for live streaming video.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - At 11:01 a.m. Monday, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to liftoff on the final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope. It's a mission that was once canceled, because NASA thought it was too dangerous. Now, the trip is back on.

For the Hubble space telescope, it has been a hard seven years. Its final repair was canceled after the Columbia disaster. NASA's then administrator ruling it was too dangerous and too far from the International Space Station, leaving astronauts nowhere to seek shelter if a shuttle was damaged.

Years later, with the storied telescope now desperately in need of repair, NASA has a plan.

STS 125 Commander Scott Altman said "you'd have that extremely unlikely case where we might need to have somebody come up and get us, and that is set."

And so with the Space Shuttle Endeavour and a rescue crew at the ready, Atlantis is all set to fly on what some say could be the most challenging mission ever.

Over 11 days and five spacewalks, astronauts will be tasked with restoring Hubble, a high flying fix that leaves scientists downright giddy.

Hubble Program Scientist David Leckrone said "the grand finale of the Hubble symphony, everything we have done up to this point has been in preparation for these final five years where Hubble is at its peak of capability. There is no area of modern astronomical research that has not been profoundly affected and changed by Hubble."

Over the last 19 years, the iconic telescope has given us clues into the creation of the universe, found distant planets, and simply amazed us with breathtaking photos.

Now its repair will leave many holding their breath, hoping for a flawless mission and safe trip home.

Another thing that makes this mission so difficult is that some of the parts of Hubble they'll be working on were never designed to be fixed in space. So, Atlantis will be carrying more than 100 new tools designed just for this mission and a cargo bay full of spare parts.

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