Cosmic Origins Spectrograph Launches Aboard STS-125 Atlantis

Photo Courtesy of Chris Scholz

May 11th, 2009 Shuttle STS-125 Atlantis roared into space from the Kennedy Space Center for the final Hubble Servicing Mission. On board were a myriad of instruments to keep the Hubble Space Telescope working well into the future.

Space Shuttle Atlantis carried two new instruments to the Hubble Space Telescope, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Wide Field Camera 3. The mission also replaced a Fine Guidance Sensor, six gyroscopes, and two battery unit modules to allow the telescope to continue to function at least through 2014.[3][7] The crew also installed new thermal blanket insulating panels to provide improved thermal protection, and a soft-capture mechanism that would aid in the safe de-orbiting of the telescope by an unmanned spacecraft at the end of its operational lifespan.[NASA 5][8] The mission also carried an IMAX camera with which the crew documented the progress of the mission for the Hubble IMAX movie.[NASA 6]

The mission was intended to extend the life of Hubble at least another five years and today we celebrate the 8 year anniversary. All instruments are working well and continue to return great science as well as the fantastic pictures we have come to love.

NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)