Preposterous Universe

Saturday, January 22, 2005
White House kills Hubble servicing plans

In yet another example where the Administration ignores the advice of the National Academy of Sciences, the 2006 budget request will apparently not include any funds to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
WASHINGTON – The White House has eliminated funding for a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope from its 2006 budget request and directed NASA to focus solely on de-orbiting the popular spacecraft at the end of its life, according to government and industry sources.

NASA is debating when and how to announce the change of plans. Sources told Space News that outgoing NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe likely will make the announcement Feb. 7 during the public presentation of the U.S. space agency’s 2006 budget request.

That budget request, according to government and industry sources, will not include any money for Hubble servicing but will include some money for a mission to attach a propulsion module to Hubble needed to safely de-orbit the spacecraft with a controlled re-entry into the Pacific Ocean. NASA would not need to launch such a mission before the end of the decade to guide the massive telescope safely into the ocean.
The decision came as a surprise to astronomers, who had been hopeful that a servicing mission would be launched.

Of course, the ultimate budget decision is in the hands of Congress, not the White House; it might be time for some letters to your Senators and Representatives.

Update: Here's the National Academy study, if you're interested: summary, full report.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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