Servicing Mission 4, the last scheduled flight of the space shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope, has been cancelled. On Jan. 16, 2004, then-NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced his decision to call off the mission, which would have performed Hubble maintenance work and installed new instruments. O'Keefe cited the new safety guidelines set out following the Columbia tragedy as the primary basis for his decision. New NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has promised to revisit the decision based on the success of upcoming shuttle flights. Check our "Update" section for new information.

Hubble was designed to be visited periodically by astronauts who would perform repairs and install new equipment. Astronauts made several servicing visits to the telescope in the years after Hubble's launch in 1990. This final servicing mission would have taken place in 2006.


April 29, 2005 — New NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has asked engineers at Goddard Space Flight Center to begin preparations for another servicing mission to Hubble. NASA has no current commitment to service Hubble, but Griffin has promised to reassess the fate of the servicing mission based on the success of the next one or two shuttle missions. Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled for a launch in July; Hubble servicing mission preparations would have to begin now to keep the possibility of a mission alive. A mission, were it approved, could take place around mid-2007 or early 2008.

April 13, 2005 — The Senate has confirmed Mike Griffin as the new NASA Administrator. He takes the place of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, who resigned in December 2004.

April 12, 2005 — Mike Griffin, nominee for NASA Administrator, told US senators at his confirmation hearing that he would reconsider the cancelled servicing mission to Hubble. "The decision not to execute the planned shuttle servicing mission was made in the immediate aftermath of the loss of Shuttle Columbia," Griffin said. "When we return to flight, it will be with essentially a new vehicle which will have a new risk analysis associated with it, and so on and so forth. At that time, I think we should reassess the earlier decision in light of what we learn after the return to flight."

Feb. 7, 2005 — The White House has released its fiscal year 2006 budget request. The request does not include any funding for a Hubble servicing mission. The House Science Committee will discuss NASA's budget on Feb. 17.

Feb. 1, 2005 — Recent news reports have stated that there is no funding for a Hubble servicing mission included in the White House's fiscal year 2006 budget request. We do not have any official information on the budget request. Information about the White House budget request will be posted at the Office of Management and Budget here. NASA posts its budget information here.

Dec. 8, 2004 — Today the National Academy of Sciences announced the release of its final report on the options for extending Hubble's life. Find the full report here.

July 13, 2004 — The National Academy of Sciences issued an interim report with recommendations for the Hubble Space Telescope. Read the report. The final NAS report will arrive in the late summer or early fall.


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