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Thu, Aug 12, 2004

Saving The Hubble

NASA Has A Plan...

NASA has selected a Canadian-made robot for an unmanned mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. Administrator Sean O'Keefe told his engineers to get cracking on a mission to keep the telescope from going dark sometime in 2007.

"Everybody says, 'We want to save the Hubble' -- well, let's go save the Hubble," O'Keefe said in a story published by the Orlando Sentinel. "Rather than just sitting there and talking about how we think we're going to do it, we've got an option we're ready to go with."

Controversy flared over the space telescope earlier this year when O'Keefe scrubbed a planned shuttle mission to service Hubble. Scientists and astronomers use the telescope to peer back toward the beginnings of our universe and were outraged at the decision. Now, their anger has turned to optimism. Hubble won't go down without a fight.

NASA workers at the Goddard Space Center picked the Canadian robot from three different designs aimed at automating a rescue mission. The Canadian Space Agency's Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator, or Dextre (above), was originally designed to service the International Space Station.

Using two robotic arms, Dextre can open panels, inspect gyros and change batteries.

FMI: www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/csa_sectors/human_pre/iss/mss_spdm.asp

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