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Shuttle releases Hubble
Posted: Sat, Mar 9, 2002, 10:29 AM ET (1529 GMT)
STS-109 Columbia releases Hubble (NASA) The space shuttle Columbia released the Hubble Space Telescope back into orbit Saturday morning, completing a successful upgrade to the orbiting observatory. The shuttle's robot arm released Hubble from its grasp at 5:04 am EST (1004 GMT), six days after first grappling the telescope. During those six days astronauts performed five spacewalks to repair and upgrade the telescope, outfitting it with new solar panels, reaction control wheels, and power control unit. They also installed a new instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, and provided an existing instrument, NICMOS, with a cooling system that may allow it to return to service. The 35 hours and 55 minutes of combined EVA time during the mission set the record for the most EVA time during a shuttle mission, breaking the old record, set by a Hubble repair mission in 1993, by a half-hour. Columbia will return to Earth Tuesday at 4:33 am EST (0933 GMT).
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