So Much for Hubble
Well, here’s the first practical consequence of the President’s boneheaded new space initiative: no more service missions will be flown to the Hubble Telescope, essentially dooming it. That’s considered acceptable since Hubble doesn’t fit in with the new grand plan.
Never mind that the new grand plan is to accomplish something (putting people back on the moon, and then, maybe, Mars) of negligible scientific benefit, while Hubble has been providing stunning imagery for years.
The bigger issue is, does this mean a general retreat from all unmanned scientific spaceflight? Because those types of missions, as unglamorous as they may be, are the only ones in the forty-some years we’ve been shooting rockets into space that have actually yielded hard scientific benefits. In comparison, manned spaceflight has mostly been a circus sideshow. I could understand doing both — you need the astronauts to keep Congress coughing up bucks for the real science. But having a huge, pointless Mars program at the expense of unmanned flights seems beyond stupid.
January 19, 2004
I’m wondering how the new space mandate will affect the next generation space telescope, originally schedule to launch in April 2011: http://ngst.gsfc.nasa.gov/