Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 Makes A Safe Landing After Delays
Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 made a safe landing at an air base in Los Angeles, California, this Sunday after two days of delays. Originally, the landing was planned for Friday, May 22, at Cape Canaveral in Florida, but was delayed over poor weather that made the shuttle's landing unsafe. Atlantis was on a 13-day mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Space Shuttle Endeavour was on standby during the STS-125 mission in case a rescue mission was needed if Atlantis astronauts ran into any major problems. NASA mission controllers breathed a sigh of relief when Atlantis touched down today at at 11:39:05 a.m. EDT. Next mission for Atlantis will come in November of this year. The shuttle will keep flying until 2010. Atlantis was supposed to retire in 2008.
Bad weather and crosswinds had delayed the return of Atlantis for three days, with the craft only having enough fuel and supplies to be aloft until Monday at the latest.
Welcoming back the crew, a member of the shuttle's mission control in Houston said: "Congratulations on a very successful mission giving Hubble a new set of eyes that will continue to expand our knowledge of the universe."
Mission duration was 12 days 21 hours 37 minutes and nine seconds for a flight covering 5.2 million miles and 197 complete orbits since blastoff May 11 from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Landing in California will add a week to 10 days to Atlantis' processing for its next mission in November and cost NASA about $1.8 million.
The astronauts installed a new camera, replaced batteries and fixed instruments on the 19-year-old Hubble telescope, repairs that scientists hope will keep it in good working order for at least another five years.
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