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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 22, 2005 15:42:44 GMT -6
Hubble lifeline moves in Senate
June 22, 2005, 1:13 PM EDT
A Senate subcommittee took a step toward extending the life of the Hubble Space Telescope, approving a $250 million down payment on a possible servicing mission.
"I think it's great news," said Steven Beckwith, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which manages scientific research on the telescope.
Without a servicing mission, Hubble is expected to die by the middle of 2008. If it is serviced -- at a cost estimated to be $500 million or more -- Hubble would be productive five years beyond that, Beckwith said.
The Hubble money was added to a NASA spending plan. Overall, the budget for NASA approved by the subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies is $16.4 billion -- $60 million below the president's request and $90 million below what the House passed last week.
The spending plan fully funds the shuttle program and the new effort to build a spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts back to the moon and beyond.
It does not fully fund the servicing mission. But Senate aides said NASA already has $125 million available, so there would be $375 million for Hubble.
Additional money could be appropriated next year or taken from other NASA programs to fund the full $500 million cost.