Thursday, December 09, 2004

Panel to O'Keefe: Go to Hell

A National Academy of Sciences panel refused to allow NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe to pull the wool over their eyes and have told NASA that a shuttle flight must be allocated to service the Hubble space telescope:

After six months of study conducted at Congress's request, the committee of 21 experts said that a robotic mission would hold too many uncertainties, that it would probably be ready too late to extend the telescope's life and that it might actually damage the instrument.

As for the risk to a space shuttle crew, the panel said, there is a "very small" difference in safety between a mission to the telescope and a typical mission to the International Space Station. More than two dozen journeys to the station are planned over the next decade.

"A shuttle servicing mission is the best option for extending the life of the Hubble telescope," said Dr. Louis J. Lanzerotti, a physics professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and chairman of the panel, assembled by the academy's National Research Council. "It is highly unlikely that the science life of Hubble would be extended with a robotic mission."

No kidding. In fact, the prime mission of the robot NASA wants to design and build - somehow - in two or three years is to deorbit the telescope safely, not repair it. O'Keefe has basically said that any shuttle mission to Hubble would take place over his resigned body. Fine. See ya.

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