by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 30, 2008
US space agency NASA said Thursday it had indefinitely delayed a February shuttle mission to repair the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, which was back in business after a four-week break to fix transmission problems.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also announced the next shuttle launch for November 14, when an Endeavour mission will deliver more equipment to the International Space Station.
The Hubble's instruments were suspended automatically on September 27 due to a technical problem with Side-A of its Science Data Formatter, a unit that stores and transmits data back to Earth.
NASA's Hubble team switched the Hubble space telescope over to its Side-B for the first time since it was launched 18 years ago, allowing it to collect data once again.
The telescope was brought back online on October 25, NASA said.
Hubble's glitch prompted NASA to postpone a long-awaited space shuttle mission to service and upgrade the orbital observatory until February, which now has been delayed.
"We now have done enough analysis of all the things that need to happen with the flight spare unit to know that we cannot be ready for a February launch," said NASA's Astrophysics Division Director Jon Morse.
The exact new target launch date for the Hubble mission by the Atlantis shuttle is under review, NASA said.
The upcoming repair mission is to be the fifth and final servicing call by space shuttle astronauts to the Hubble, which is due to function at least two more years until 2013 when the James Webb Space Telescope will be launched.
Orbiting 575 kilometers (360 miles) above Earth, Hubble launched in 1990 and has enabled scientists to better measure the age and origins of the universe, observe distant supernovas, and identify and study bodies inside and outside the solar system.
The Endeavour and a crew of seven astronauts will blast off from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 14 -- weather permitting -- with 6,577 kilograms (14,500 pounds) of supplies and equipment inside the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo to the ISS.
Space Telescope News and Technology at Skynightly.com
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