May 13, 2009

Atlantis docks with the Hubble telescope

U.S. space shuttle Atlantis docked with the Hubble Space Telescope Wednesday about 350 statute miles above the Australian coast.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said contact between the space telescope and the shuttle's robotic arm occurred at 1:14 p.m. EDT. The telescope was latched to a high-tech, lazy Susan device known as the Flight Support System for the duration of the servicing work.

The STS-125 shuttle crew will perform five spacewalks to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope, making it 100 times more powerful than it was when it went into orbit in April 1990 and enabling it to continue operating until at least 2014.

. The first spacewalk is scheduled Thursday.

The space agency said its engineers were still examining the images captured during Tuesday's post-launch inspection of Atlantis' thermal protection system and exterior surfaces. Officials noted one area of damage on the forward part of the spacecraft where the wing blends into the fuselage. However, NASA said initial views of the damage suggest it is very minor and no concern for the mission.