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NASA to pursue robotic servicing of Hubble
Posted: Tue, Jun 1, 2004, 8:05 PM ET (0005 GMT)
Hubble Space Telescope (NASA) NASA announced Tuesday afternoon that it plans to solicit proposals for robotic missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope as well as deorbit it at the end of its mission. NASA issued a formal Request For Proposals (RFP) for robotic servicing of Hubble, with a deadline for submissions of July 16. Such a mission could provide new batteries and gyroscopes, and possibly install new instruments on the venerable orbiting observatory. The primary purpose of the mission, though, would be to install a engine that would deorbit the spacecraft safely at the end of its mission; any proposals that offer to perform servicing of the telescope must also include an option to simply deorbit the spacecraft. The goal would be to launch some kind of robotic mission to Hubble by the end of 2007. The fate of Hubble has been a focus of intense debate since NASA announced in mid-January that it would cancel the final shuttle servicing mission, SM4, to the telescope. The scientific community, as well as some members of Congress, have lobbied NASA to reverse its decision or else come up with some alternatives to keep the telescope operating. O'Keefe announced the decision to issue the RFP during a speech at the American Astronomical Society's conference in Denver.
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