May 18, 2009

Hubble spacewalkers complete all tasks

The fifth and final U.S. spacewalk to repair and refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope was completed Monday with all goals of the mission accomplished.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said astronauts John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel, among other things, installed new protective thermal insulation panels on the telescope's three bay doors and replaced one of the telescope's fine guidance sensors that provide pointing information, as well as determining precise position and motion of stars.

The fifth and final planned Hubble repair spacewalk began at 8:20 a.m. EDT and ended at 3:22 p.m.

After completing their scheduled tasks, the astronauts cleaned up the space shuttle Atlantis payload bay in which Hubble was tethered and where the work was performed. They then closed the space telescope for what's expected to be the last time.

The work performed during the mission was designed to allow the space telescope to continue working to at least 2014, It was to be placed back into orbit Tuesday.

NASA said Hubble' science observations are expected to resume approximately three weeks after the shuttle departs.

Before ending the 7-hour and 2-minute spacewalk, Grunsfeld said: This is a really tremendous adventure that we've been on, a very challenging mission. Hubble isn't just a satellite -- it's about humanity's quest for knowledge.