May 11th, 2009 - OV-104 Atlantis departs from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A on a final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). STS-125 would be the only mission Atlantis would visit the HST - prior servicing missions were done by Discovery twice, with Columbia and Endeavour each once.
Upgrades to HST included the Cosmic Origins Spectograph, the Wide Field Camera 3 which can record different wavelengths of light, and a device called the Soft-Capture Mechanism, which will be used by a future craft to safely de-orbit Hubble at the end of its life span. HST is expected to continue to operate well into the 2030s.
STS-125 was unique in that it is one of a few missions that had two full Shuttle stacks on the launch pad at the same time. Any damage sustained from the launch that prevented Atlantis from returning home meant that she would be stuck in orbit with only three weeks of supplies. A rescue mission was specifically developed for STS-125, as the low inclination orbit of the HST meant that the International Space Station would effectively be out of reach of Atlantis and her crew.
In the event of Atlantis suffering damage, STS-400 would launch up to the crippled shuttle and extract the crew for a safe return home. OV-105 Endeavour was placed on stand-by at LC-39B until May 21st, after Atlantis was deemed safe to return home, and was released to begin processing for STS-127.
Atlantis and crew would return home May 24th, landing at Edwards Air Force Base - the weather in Florida deemed unsatisfactory for landing the orbiter. STS-125 had five successful EVAs, orbited the Earth 197 times, and featured the first Tweet from space by Astronaut Michael Massimino which read, “From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!”
STS-125 was another shuttle mission to feature an IMAX camera, used to document the life of HST and the views of the universe it has brought to us. IMAX: Hubble 3D was released in 2010 and features the launch of STS-125.