The future of the Hubble Space Telescope hangs in the balance, after the White House declined to approve the necessary funding to repair and upgrade the apparatus, US media reported.
The White House, in consultation with NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe, eliminated the funding for the project – estimated at over one billion dollars – from NASA’s proposed budget for fiscal 2006, which begins October 1, The Washington Post said Saturday, citing anonymous administration sources.
NASA spokesman Robert Mirelson dismissed the reports as “pure speculation” and told AFP it would be “inappropriate” for him to discuss the matter “before the budget proposal comes out to the Congress February 7.”
According to Space.com, an online news service, NASA’s budget would include funding for a robotic vehicle that would steer the telescope into the ocean when its batteries or gyroscopes stop functioning.
US astronauts conducted four shuttle missions to repair and upgrade the Hubble (in 1991, 1993, 1997 and 2002), and a fifth and final manned shuttle mission had been expected in 2006 to replace aging batteries and install new sensors and gyroscopes.
Since it entered into service in 1990, the Hubble has established the age of the Milky Way at between 13 billion and 14 billion years, helped gather evidence to support the Big Bang theory and provided the first convincing proof by an optical telescope of the existence of black holes.
If nothing is done, Hubble, built to last until the end of 2005, could still survive until 2007. Repairs would have kept the telescope in service until 2011.
Ah you never know with them slackers in DC, they cry wolf so often you never know what they are doing until they sign the bottom line, and mostly that is not even a done deal, Personally I think a wait and see attitude is needed on this one.
You got to remember that Bush is not the final word on spending although Ronbo Reagan did get the line item veto implemented so this could just be another round.
NASA really neads to get it’s act together, 1 failure wipes out all them stored up atta boys.
It is a shame from another point of view. Here is an ideal opportunity to learn telepresence and robotics in space by doing. I would use Hubble as a platform for rehearsing technology we will need anyway - if we can keep it going for longer as a result that is great, if not we have not lost very much we were not going to lose anyway. It is much easier to design and experiment when you have a real goal to aim for, and it should provide a good excuse for funding robotics applications.
The Major is right. This decision is far from made. The President makes a budget request which goes to Congress. Many committees in each house are part of the process. There is one committee in each house responsible for the NASA budget that submits its bill to the full house and senate. Then the entire bill is kicked around and changed before being put to the membership for a vote. Then the two now different bills passed by the house and senate are put before a conference committee representing both houses. The conference committee negotiates with its members and the White House to craft something in between the two, or somewhat different. There are rules governing this. Then a comprimise bill is put to both houses for a final vote before being sent back to the White House for signature. The President can sign it, veto it or do nothing and let it be enacted without his comment.
That is how the textbooks say the system works. In reality, it is far more complicated than this. Some members of Congress will vote against a measure they actually support. They can do this so as not to appear supporting something their constituitents are against. They can safely vote against it because they already know the numbers voting in favor. Who gets to vote no is often negotiated in secret among the members.
One reason the Japanese military decided to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941 was due to a total misread of our congressional system. The US sent ships and aircraft to help the UK before the US formally joined the war with something called the “Lend, Lease”. At that time there were many areas in the US with a large German imigrant population. Those members of congress naturally voted against the measure even though they supported helping the UK. They could do so because the bill was guaranteed to pass. The official vote showed the Lend Lease passing by one vote. Japan saw this as a lack of resolve by the US to enter a war. They had it totally wrong.
The Lend Lease required the UK to pay rent or buy outright the planes and ships they borrowed unless they were lost. To fulfil the letter of the bill, on the way back to the US at the end of the war, the remaining planes were pushed overboard, therefore lost. The UK owed us nothing. Neat trick, huh?
I don’t know what happened to the ships but I have scuba dived on a ship off the coast of South Carolina. It had its fittings removed and sunk there to make an artifical reef. There are many such scuttled ship/reefs along the Eastern Seaboard. If those are the same ships or not, I do not know.