Maryland gets behind Hubble

First it was Sen. Mukulski, now it’s the rest of the state’s Congressional representatives. The AP reports that all ten members of the state’s Congressional delegation—Mukulski, fellow senator Paul Sarbanes, and all eight House members—have signed a letter sent to NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe asking him to reconsider his decision to cancel the SM4 Hubble servicing mission. Mikulski had previously contacted O’Keefe herself, but has found support from her colleagues (remember that the Space Telescope Science Institute and NASA Goddard, where Hubble flight control is located, are both in Maryland.) The letter notes that $200 million has been spent to date on instruments that would have been installed on Hubble duing SM4, and a robotic Hubble deorbiting mission may cost an additional $300 million. “In light of these costs… as well as the several decades of funding already devoted to Hubble, a decision to cancel the Hubble program several years shy of its goal appears to make little economic sense,” the letter notes. (Of course, money will have to be spent at some point to deorbit Hubble, whether it’s by a robotic mission or installing a deorbit propulsion module on SM4.)

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