NASA managers officially are targeting Sept. 10, 2008, for the launch of the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight, Atlantis' seven astronauts will repair and improve the observatory's capabilities through 2013.
Mission planners have been working since last fall, when the flight was announced, to determine the best time in the shuttle manifest to support the needs of Hubble while minimizing the impact to International Space Station assembly. NASA also will support a "launch on need" flight during the Hubble mission.
In the unlikely event a rescue flight becomes necessary, shuttle Endeavour currently is planned to lift off from Launch Pad 39-B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. However, managers constantly are evaluating the manifest to determine the best mission options.
Shuttle missions beyond the Hubble flight still are being assessed. Shuttle and station program officials will continue to consider options for the remainder of the shuttle flights to complete construction of the space station by 2010, when the fleet will be retired. Those target launch dates are subject to change.
Explore further: Rosetta spacecraft sees sinkholes on comet