Astronauts release Hubble telescope back into space!
* Hubble observatory released into space after repairs
* Revamped telescope's first image expected in September
* Shuttle Atlantis due to land in Florida on Friday
By Irene Klotz
HOUSTON, May 19 (Reuters) - Rejuvenated by hours of repairs in space, the Hubble Space Telescope floated out of shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay on Tuesday to reclaim its place as the world's flagship observatory for astronomical research.
Atlantis astronauts spent more than 36 hours over five marathon spacewalks to make upgrades and outfit Hubble with new instruments. These included a panchromatic wide-field camera that should be able to see objects formed just 500 million years after the universe's birth in the big bang explosion some 13.7 billion years ago.
Using the shuttle's robot arm, astronaut Megan McArthur gently lifted the 13-tonne observatory from a work platform in Atlantis' payload bay where it had been positioned since Wednesday.
Holding the telescope high overhead, she released Hubble at 8:57 a.m. EDT (1257 GMT) as the spacecraft soared 350 miles (560 km) over the planet.
The hubble is done, a step closer to the age of space and starships! :D