NASA Administrator Mike Griffin spoke today at Goddard Space Flight Center, and he announced that...
The Hubble servicing mission is ON!
The mission is slated for 2008. There are contingencies, of course. This all depends on the Space Shuttle, which is not terribly reliable as far as scheduling goes. There are many space station missions that need to go up first, too. But the Hubble mission is officially on the docket, and that's great news!
This wasn't a huge surprise, of course. Even before Griffin spoke, Ed Weiler (GSFC Director), in his introductory remarks, went out of his way to point out that Maryland Senator and tireless Hubble promoter Barbara Mikulski was in the audience. That made it pretty clear that NASA wasn't about to let Hubble go. :-) I noticed she was the first to stand up and applaud when Griffin actually announced his decision, too.
In the interest of getting this news out quickly, I'm posting this entry early -- Griffin is still speaking as I write this. I'll post updates as I get a chance.
Update 1: Griffin announced the astronaut list. There were several first-time astronauts, which was interesting. At least three have PhDs -- none in astronomy! That's funny, and a bit ironic. But this looks like a good crew, including John Grunsfeld, who has flown four times, two of which were Hubble servicing missions.
Update 2: Barbara Mikulski said a few words. I find it interesting that she pointed out that servicing Hubble is important for science and science education. Griffin has not been a big supporter of the education arm of NASA. I know this won't mean much to him, but it's great to hear a US Senator actually make a statement indicating how important science education is!
But nuts, she also said that when it was launched, Hubble's "lens" didn't work. Sigh. Hubble doesn't have a lens, it has a mirror. :)
Update 3: There will be a mission press conference at 9:15 Pacific time. I'll watch that and post more updates. Until then I have to get the Little Astronomer to school and me to work!