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Spacewalkers finish final Hubble tune-up

Astronauts finished the last of five complex spacewalks to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope on Monday, leaving the 19-year-old instrument at the height of its star-gazing prowess.

Three earlier spacewalks during the shuttle Atlantis' 11-day servicing mission to the bus-sized telescope were beset by frozen bolts and balky equipment that left astronauts cursing and ground controllers scrambling to improvise solutions.

But John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel's seven-hour house call to Hubble on Monday went so smoothly that NASA added a final task: replacing some of the telescope's thermal insulation.

It was the last time that human hands will ever likely touch Hubble, due to NASA's plans to retire the shuttle fleet next year.

NASA hopes the improvements will keep Hubble operational until at least 2014 so it can work in tandem with its replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Read full Reuters article