9 Years Ago Today – COS Launches on the Last Hubble Servicing Mission

May 11th 2009, the Space Shuttle Atlantis, lifted off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on Mission STS-125, the last Hubble Servicing Mission. On board were a variety of new instruments, Wide Field Camera 3, A Soft Capture Mechanism, New Gyroscopes, Batteries, a Science and Data Handling Unit and COS – Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, pictured below.

COS Lifted into Orbiter Transport Carrier. Photo Courtesy of NASA

The microchannel plate detector and associated electronics (low and high voltage power supplies, amplifiers, time to digital converters, and control and processing board) for the far ultraviolet (FUV) channel of COS were built by the Experimental Astrophysics Group at UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab for Principal Investigator Dr. James Green of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The servicing mission was intended to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope an additional 5 years. All instruments are still working nominally 9 years post launch.

STS 125 Leaving the Vertical Assembly Building on its way to Pad 39A: Courtesy Christopher Scholz

Launch of STS 125 from Pad 39A on it way up to capture the Hubble Space Telescope: Courtesy Christopher Scholz