Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis on Neighboring Launch Pads

Friday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Endeavour completed its 4.2-mile trek from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B. With Atlantis on nearby Launch Pad 39A, this marks the final time that two shuttles will be on the launch pads at the same time, as the shuttle program draws to a close next year.

Atlantis is targeted for liftoff May 12 at 1:31 p.m. EDT, when the crew will begin the STS-125 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis' mission payload is set to arrive at the launch pad Saturday evening.

Prior to its STS-127 mission to the International Space Station, Endeavour will remain on standby at the launch pad in the unlikely event that a rescue mission for the Atlantis crew members would be necessary during their mission. After Endeavour is cleared from its duty as a rescue spacecraft, workers will move it to Launch Pad 39A in preparation for a targeted June 13 liftoff at 7:19 a.m. EDT.

At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the STS-125 astronauts continue training for their servicing mission, which will include five spacewalks.

Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis at Launch Pads

Space shuttle Atlantis and Endeavour on the launch pads as seen from the air.
STS-125: Mission to Service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Veteran astronaut Scott Altman will command the final space shuttle mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and retired Navy Capt. Gregory C. Johnson will serve as pilot. Mission specialists rounding out the crew are: veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.

During the 11-day mission's five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014.

In addition to the originally scheduled work, Atlantis also will carry a replacement Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit for Hubble. Astronauts will install the unit on the telescope, removing the one that stopped working on Sept. 27, 2008, delaying the servicing mission until the replacement was ready.

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