NASA Told To Focus On Destroying Telescope Safely and has learned that NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has been told there are no funds to maintain or upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, and that the only funds available will be those set aside attaching a thruster to the telescope in order to ensure a safe re-entry... and destruction... of the Hubble. O'Keefe has not gone public with this, but sources told members of the space media that he may make the announcement on February 7 when the agency announces its FY2006 budget request. The Administrator apparently was given the news on January 13 in a White House meeting with administration officials. The robotic and shuttle-based options to maintain and upgrade the Hubble were both expected to cost in excess of $1 billion. O'Keefe was allegedly told that the Hubble maintenance mission could not be put into the budget given NASA's other commitments, including the return to flight of the Shuttle fleet. O'Keefe has not informed Congress about this turn of events as of yet --but there appeared to be rumors around Capitol Hill that this was to happen. However, this may not be the end of the line for the telescope, as some in Congress have suggested that the initial decision is nothing but a negotiating ploy, and that Congress may simply turn around and appropriate the funds necessary to keep the Hubble in operation. FMI: www.nasa.gov, www.house.gov, www.senate.gov
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