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Astronauts Enjoy Half-Day Off

March 10, 2002

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ After a hectic and stressful week working on the Hubble Space Telescope, space shuttle Columbia’s astronauts enjoyed some time off Sunday.

Commander Scott Altman said he and his crew were looking forward to the half-day break and live video linkups with their families.

All that remained, besides packing, was Tuesday morning’s landing.

``We all know we’ve got a big day coming up and we’re going to keep focused on that,″ said astronaut Nancy Currie, the flight engineer. ``It’s not over until wheels stop.″

The seven astronauts completed NASA’s most challenging service call with the successful release of Hubble on Saturday. In all, a record-tying five spacewalks were conducted to boost the telescope’s power and enhance its scientific capability. Officials said the work was more difficult than anything attempted before on the 12-year-old observatory.

``A great close to an outstanding mission,″ said lead flight director Bryan Austin.

Columbia and its crew rocketed into orbit on March 1.


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