Friday, March 12, 2004

Hubble Study

Still trying to do the bidding of his master Dubya, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe told a Senate committee yesterday that he is willing to study the Hubble Servicing Mission, but it's obvious he's dead set against it, in spite of not getting the support from CAIB's Admiral Hal Gehman he unquestionably was expecting.

In late January, under pressure to reconsider, Mr. O'Keefe asked Harold W. Gehman Jr., the retired admiral who was chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, for an opinion on the mission. At the hearing on Thursday, Ms. Mikulski released a five-page letter from Admiral Gehman saying that all shuttle flights are risky and that a Hubble mission would be only "slightly more risky" than one to the International Space Station.

"I suggest only a deep and rich study of the entire gain/risk equation can answer the question of whether an extension of the life of the wonderful Hubble telescope is worth the risks involved," he wrote.

O'Keefe, of course, was hoping for vapors from Gehman, but having read much of the CAIB report and the transcripts of the public testimony, I'm not surprised that Gehman is more equivocal.

UPDATE: Read Admiral Gehman's letter here.

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