Let’s say you have two choices: putting some money into servicing an established, functioning, NSF-endorsed satellite that is returning amazing science results for over 10 years, or putting that money into a pie-in-the-sky, underfunded, and ill-concieved plan to send humans to Mars. If you’re the administration in the White House, you choose the latter.
The White House has eliminated funding for a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope from its 2006 budget request and directed NASA to focus solely on de-orbiting the popular spacecraft at the end of its life, according to government and industry sources.
That budget request, according to government and industry sources, will not include any money for Hubble servicing but will include some money for a mission to attach a propulsion module to Hubble needed to safely de-orbit the spacecraft with a controlled re-entry into the Pacific Ocean. NASA would not need to launch such a mission before the end of the decade to guide the massive telescope safely into the ocean.
No one is saying that the exploration
BS initiative is the cause of the HST servicing mission getting cut from the budget. However, it was about a year ago that the exploration initiative was announced, and it was about a year ago when they first talked about cutting the HST servicing mission.
According to the article, “With both robotic and shuttle-based servicing options expected to cost well in excess of $1 billion, sources said, NASA was told it simply could not afford to save Hubble given everything else NASA has on its agenda, including preparing the shuttle fleet to fly again.” Hmmm. $1 billion. Wasn’t that the extra that NASA was supposed to get for the exploration initiative (Plus $10 billion redirected from existing NASA programs)? What a coincidence.
The final approval for the budget, however, comes from Congress. This might be a good time to write a letter to your local congress members.
[via Preposterous Universe]