Astronauts hook up new camera for Hubble

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The old one was installed in December 1993 during the first Hubble repair mission, to remedy the telescope’s blurred vision. It had corrective lenses already in place and, because of the astounding images it captured, quickly became known as the camera that saved Hubble. It’s also been dubbed the people’s telescope because its cosmic pictures seem to turn up everywhere.

The camera — which has taken more than 135,000 observations — is destined for the Smithsonian Institution.

Grunsfeld, the chief repairman with two previous Hubble missions under his work belt, took the lead on the camera replacement as well as the work to install a new science data-handling device. He sounded awe-struck as ever. “Ah, this is fantastic,” he said as he floated outside, the bus-size telescope looming overhead.

Hubble’s original data handler, which was launched with the telescope 19 years ago, failed in September, just two weeks before Atlantis was supposed to take off on this fifth and final servicing mission. The breakdown caused all picture-taking to cease and prompted NASA to delay the shuttle flight by seven months.

Flight controllers managed to get the telescope working again, but NASA decided to replace the faulty computer unit. The goal is to keep Hubble running for another five to 10 years.

Another two-man team will venture out Friday for the second spacewalk.

On the Net:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/index.html

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