Michael Griffin announced Friday that preparation work would begin
for a space shuttle flight to save the Hubble Space Telescope. A
decision to actually fly the mission will not be made until after
the shuttle returns to flight and additional tests are
"What we're going to be doing is getting the Shuttle Mission 4
servicing folks at Goddard started on the work that they would have
to do if a servicing flight can yet be done," said Griffin.
This reverses the decision by Sean O'Keefe that a space shuttle
mission would be unsafe. Griffin acknowledged, "there are
substantive technical questions remaining on the shuttle end of
things that we simply can't answer until we return to flight. So
there is the issue of possibly we would be expending some money
that would ultimately not serve our purpose."
Congress had allocated funds towards a Hubble servicing mission
and Griffin is attempting to comply with that legislation. Numerous
reviews of robotic missions have all concluded that limited time
and money would prevent the success of a robotic solution. "So
that's off the table," said Griffin.
When asked if this could interfere with the shuttle's return to
flight, Griffin said, "We're not going to allow any of the SM-4
work on Hubble to interfere with return to flight. I mean, that is
a guarantee. But the folks out at Goddard who are needed to
prosecute that effort are not in the series path on return to