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NASA defends decision to cancel HST servicing mission
Posted: Tue, Feb 10, 2004, 6:51 AM ET (1151 GMT)
Hubble Space Telescope (NASA) NASA officials on Monday defended the agency's decision last month to cancel the final shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope despite a large public outcry and reports that suggest the mission would not be unsafe. Will Readdy, NASA associate administrator for space flight, told reporters on Monday that anonymous documents that argue that a shuttle mission to Hubble would be no more dangerous than one to the ISS "oversimplifies these complex, interrelated issues." Readdy said that, for example, a shuttle mission to HST would require NASA to have a second shuttle on the pad to launch on a rescue mission would put "extreme schedule pressure" on the shuttle program that would make such a mission unsafe. NASA has been under considerable pressure from astronomers, members of Congress, and the public for canceling the mission, a decision that could force Hubble to shut down in the next few years. Late last month NASA asked Harold Gehman, former chairman of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, to review the agency's decision. The decision will also be a topic Thursday during a hearing of the House Science Committee.
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