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Astronauts Release Renewed Hubble Telescope Into Orbit

U.S. astronauts released a renewed Hubble Space Telescope back into orbit, where it is expected to continue its mission studying the universe for at least five more years.

The crew of the shuttle Atlantis bid farewell to the 19-year-old telescope Tuesday, capping the fifth and final mission to extend the Hubble's life.

Astronaut Megan McArthur used the shuttle's robotic arm to carefully lift the Hubble out of the payload bay, move it high above Atlantis, and gently cast the telescope back into orbit.

The seven-member crew made unprecedented upgrades and repairs to the telescope during five ambitious spacewalks in what was an especially dangerous mission because of debris cluttering the orbit.

The U.S. space agency NASA says the telescope is now able to look more deeply into space and help scientists look, as NASA put it, further back in time.

During the mission, astronauts installed a new camera and installed a sophisticated new instrument, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, to help capture images about how planets, stars and galaxies were formed.

Atlantis is scheduled to return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday.