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NAS Reports on Hubble

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
July 14, 2004

14 July 2004: Hubble repair options ‘open’, Houston Chronicle

14 July 2004: Astronauts could save Hubble, says panel, New Scientist

14 July 2004: Keep Hubble Repair Options Open – Experts, Reuters

13 July 2004: Report to NASA by the NAS Committee on the Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope

Editor’s rant: Editor’s note: I have been ordered by a rather obnoxious press officer at the National Academy of Sciences to remove this document from our servers. They claim that they retain copyright to it – even though it is a deliverable to the United States Congress and to NASA – and an official, public letter sent to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Since they are asserting that they retain copyright to this document and I will remove it. However, the fact that all of their efforts – including this one – are paid for with tax dollars seems to be lost on them. NASA buys their services.

Moreover, and I have official NAS email to document this, I have, for years, been sent materials by NAS employees with the specific request that I post them so as to increase their distribution. Yesterday, I spoke with their press office and told them that I was going to post the report and they had no problem with that. Now, 24 hours later, they have suddenly changed their mind. The NAS needs to get their act together and send a memo out to their employees and establish a policy once and for all. In so doing they need to get off their throne and keep in mind who pays all of their bills – and who they work for.

“Based on its current assessment of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report and the Stafford-Covey reports (latest dated May 19, 2004), the committee concludes that a shuttle flight to the HST is not precluded by or inconsistent with the recommendations from these two NASA advisory groups.”

“RECOMMENDATION. The committee urges that NASA commit to a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope that accomplishes the objectives of the originally planned SM-4 mission, including both the replacement of the present instruments with the two instruments already developed for flight-the Wide Field Camera-3 and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph- and the engineering objectives, such as gyroscope and battery replacements. Such a servicing mission would extend the life of this unique telescope and maximize its productivity.”

“RECOMMENDATION. At the same time that NASA is vigorously pursuing development of robotic servicing capabilities, and until the agency has completed a more comprehensive examination of the engineering and technology issues, including risk assessments related to both robotic and human servicing options, NASA should take no actions that would preclude a space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Editor’s note: The NAS did exactly what Hal Gehman did: they punted. No firm opinion ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with regard to a human or robotic mission to Hubble. AS such, the value of this report is dubious at best since it simply resets the entire discussion back to where it was when the report was first called for – and throws the issue back into NASA’s lap.

Hal Gehman said “do the best you can”. Now the NAS says “keep your options open”.

13 July 2004: House Science Committee Democrats React to National Academies’ Report on Hubble Space Telescope

13 July 2004: House Science Committee Boehlert Praises Academy Report

13 July 2004: NASA Administrator Supports Efforts of the National Academies on Behalf of Hubble Space Telescope

12 July 2004: NAS Hubble Servicing Report Release imminent

Editor’s note: Word has it that the NAS will release its report on NASA’s cancellation of the SM4 Hubble Servicing mission on Wednesday. Congress should have the report on Tuesday.

Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope, NAS SSB

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.