NASA has chosen May 11 as the launch date for its last repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, not seen up close for seven years.
Space shuttle Atlantis is set to blast off then on the highly awaited 11-day flight, considered one of the most challenging yet.
Senior managers met Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center and concluded that the shuttle and Hubble teams could meet a launch date that was one day earlier than planned. Liftoff had been targeted for May 12, but NASA wanted an extra day to get off the ground before a week-long military operation gets under way May 14.
Atlantis' crew will conduct five spacewalks to replace and repair science instruments at Hubble, and install new equipment that should keep the orbiting telescope running for another five to 10 years.
The mission had been scheduled for last fall, but a breakdown at the telescope delayed everything for seven months.