Astronauts inspect Atlantis while chasing Hubble

May 12, 2009 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts-off at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canveral, Fla, on Monday, May 11, 2009. Space Shuttle Atlantis' seven-member crew are on a final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP) -- Shuttle Atlantis is racing after the Hubble Space Telescope a day after taking off on a daring repair mission.

On Tuesday, the seven will spend the entire day inspecting virtually every inch of the shuttle for any launch damage. They surveyed the thermal shielding on their crew cabin Monday evening.

This final trip to Hubble is especially dangerous because of all the space junk in the telescope's 350-mile-high orbit. Atlantis seems to have come through its launch fairly well, at least. But the analysis is continuing.

Another shuttle, Endeavour, is at the launch pad and could take off in three to six days if the astronauts had to be rescued.

Atlantis will catch up to Hubble on Wednesday.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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