The first stage of Atlantis’s rescue mission to extend the life of the Hubble space telescope has passed off with success.
The space shuttle’s grease monkeys, John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel, spent a total of seven hours and 20 minutes on initial spacewalks, and installing a new camera and computer. The mission is designed to modernise Hubble and give it another five years of life, by which time its successor, the James Webb telescope, will be ready. In all five spacewalks are planned during the 11-day flight, which itself is the last of five that have been needed to save Hubble and keep our eyes on the heavens while its replacements arrive. Space telescopes have the ability to look back in time to some of the earliest events in astrophysics giving us vital clues as to the shape and size of everything, and how our galaxy evolved.