CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- With their homecoming just a day away, space shuttle Columbia's astronauts said Monday they're exhausted but exhilarated by the success of their Hubble Space Telescope repair mission.
"Unbelievable that we got everything we set out to do accomplished," shuttle commander Scott Altman said. "We're really thrilled about that and we're looking forward to coming home and sharing some more with everybody."
Columbia is scheduled to land early Tuesday morning, 11 days after taking off on what had been billed as NASA's most complicated servicing mission. The flight got off to "a rough start" because of a clogged shuttle cooling line that threatened to bring the crew of seven home early, and ever since, "it's been an uphill climb," Altman said.
"We've worked incredibly hard, been very busy but also I think incredibly successful," he said during a news conference.
It was especially gratifying to watch the rejuvenated Hubble set off Saturday on its journey for new discoveries, Altman said. The telescope departed with more powerful solar wings, a better central power controller and the most advanced optical camera ever launched to study the universe.
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