In this image made from NASA TV, the Hubble Space Telescope is seen, Wednesday, May 13, 2009. Astronaut Megan McArthur caught the school bus-sized telescope with the space shuttle's robot arm while orbiting 350 miles above Earth Wednesday, setting the stage for five days of formidable spacewalking repairs.
It was like a delicate handshake in space -- all while traveling 5 miles per second or about 85 football fields. This afternoon astronauts aboard Atlantis used the robotic arm of the shuttle to grab on to the Hubble space telescope (orbiting at about 350 statute miles) and move it into the payload bay. It's the first time anyone has seen Hubble up close since the last servicing mission in 2002. Tomorrow begins the first of five complex (and risky) spacewalks to install a powerful new camera and fresh batteries. We'll have the day's images and dramatic video tonight on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
It's actually been a busy space week, as we broadcasted a live webcast during Monday's launch from Kennedy Space Center. And I'll be heading to Johnson Space Center tonight after the broadcast for a story about the spacewalks on tomorrow's Early Show. With the future of U.S. manned space flights really up in the air beyond the shuttle missions (just eight remaining), this trek to breathe new life into Hubble as it studies the origins of the universe is a biggie. It may be the last big U.S. manned space flight for many years. We'll stay on top of it and I hope you'll be watching. I know I can barely take my eyes off the stunning pictures – both the grappling of the telescope itself and its stellar photos.
In the meantime, stay connected.