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NASA to start planning for shuttle Hubble mission
Posted: Sun, May 1, 2005, 11:38 AM ET (1538 GMT)
Hubble Space Telescope (NASA) NASA administrator Michael Griffin said Friday that he has directed engineers at the space agency to begin preparations for the restoration of a shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, although a final decision on such a mission has yet to be made. Griffin said that he asked engineers to start work now because of the limited time available to mount such a mission before the telescope falls into irreparable disrepair around 2008. Griffin previously said that he would wait until the shuttle returned to flight before studying the issue, but said Friday the delay in the launch of STS-114 from May to July required him to start those preparations now. Griffin's predecessor, Sean O'Keefe, canceled the SM4 servicing mission in January 2004 after agency officials concluded that such a mission would be too risky in the wake of the Columbia accident. That decision has been sharply criticized by scientists and members of Congress, who have lobbied NASA to restore the mission or find another option to keep the 15-year-old telescope in operation.
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