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Mon, May 02, 2005

NASA Changes Course On Hubble

Beginning Work At Goddard

NASA Administrator 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 conducted.

"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 flight."

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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