Posted: Wed, Jan 19, 2005, 6:59 AM ET (1159 GMT)
The American Astronomical Society (AAS), a professional astronomy organization, announced Tuesday that it backs a report released last month that concluded that a shuttle mission was the only viable option for repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. AAS officials, calling Hubble "the most productive telescope since Galileo's", said that the telescope's life should be extended, and concurred with the recommendation of the National Research Council that a shuttle mission was more likely to succeed than a robotic mission. NASA cancelled plans for a final shuttle servicing mission a year ago, but after an outcry from astronomers, politicians, and the general public, announced plans to develop a robotic servicing mission. That plan, in turn, has been criticized by those who feel the mission is too complex and may not be ready to fly until Hubble irreparably fails. The AAS, with a membership of 6,500, represents the vast majority of professional astronomers in the US.