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Last Hubble rendezvous

During five successful space walks, astronauts repaired and rejuvenated the space telescope

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3:28pm, May 19, 2009

A group of astronauts-cum-repairmen bid a final adieu to the Hubble Space Telescope at 8:57 a.m. EDT on May 19. Using the robotic arm on the space shuttle Atlantis, Megan McArthur lifted Hubble high above the shuttle’s cargo bay and released it. Thirty-one minutes later, Atlantis fired its thrusters to increase its separation from Hubble.

Five space walks had been the last servicing call for the 19-year-old orbiting observatory. The 11-day servicing mission, scheduled to return astronauts to Earth on May 22, almost never happened. NASA canceled the mission early in 2004 after the Columbia shuttle disaster only to reinstate the trip under a new administrator and after public outcry.

During the space walks astronauts essentially turned Hubble into a new,

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