| GEO World|
| Atlantic ‘going for broke’ to fix Hubble telescope|
| Updated at: 0738 PST, Friday, May 15, 2009|
CAPE CANAVERAL: After months of delay, the space shuttle Atlantis and its seven astronauts embarked on a risky mission Monday to breathe new life into the Hubble Space Telescope.
The stakes are high. Hubble is 19 years old with two broken cameras and a host of other systems in need of replacement or upgrades. Atlantis is on the fifth and final mission to overhaul the iconic space telescope.
"Particularly on this mission, the final mission, we're going for broke," said David Leckrone, senior project scientist for Hubble. "We've set the bar extraordinarily high for ourselves."
The mission carries a price tag of $1.1 billion. NASA and the European Space Agency have spent $10 billion on Hubble since the orbiting observatory's conception and launch in 1990.
"We're ready to go give Hubble a hug," said veteran Hubble repairman John Grunsfeld, an astrophysicist-turned-astronaut making his third trip to the space telescope. "I hope Hubble's ready for us."
If all goes well, the astronauts will leave Hubble's vision and science capability more powerful than ever before by the end of the 11-day mission. Atlantis is also carrying a set of IMAX 3-D cameras to document Hubble's last service call for a film slated to be released in spring 2010.