Status Report

Hubble Servicing Mission SM4 Cancelled by NASA Headquarters (Internal Memos)

By SpaceRef Editor
January 16, 2004
Filed under , ,
Hubble Servicing Mission SM4 Cancelled by NASA Headquarters (Internal Memos)

Editor’s note: This is an internal STScI memo from Steve Beckwith:


A few minutes ago, we concluded a meeting at which Sean
O’Keefe, the NASA Administrator, announced his decision to
cancel SM4, the next servicing mission to Hubble. It was his
decision alone, and I will discuss the details with your
personally. I will be holding a town-hall meeting in the
auditorium at 3:00 pm today for everyone who is interested to
answer your questions about the decision and talk about the


From: rwo@gemini.astro.Virginia.EDU

Subject: Cancellation of SM4

Dear SOC:

You’ve just heard from Randy, and I just finished a long conversation
with Dave Leckrone. O’Keefe decided, apparently almost purely for
reasons of Shuttle safety, to cancel SM4. Budget was not a driving
concern, nor was the new Bush space initiative. (Only the timing
was related to the President’s announcement.) Code S opposed the
decision and had identified sufficient funding to cover the SM4

Basically, the problem was that a Hubble Shuttle mission would require
special safety procedures to be developed (inspection, etc) that would
not be necessary for an ISS mission. (This point seems to be disputed
by people in Houston, who were eager to do SM4.) Only ISS missions
will be carried out in the future.

John Grunsfeld, the Chief Scientist, was apparently as surprised as
most everybody else at the decision. Dave’s first inkling was
the email sent out by Rogier yesterday. This has been held very
close to the vest.

The decision is such that it looks like there is no recourse.

We have been encouraged to think of other productive ways to use
WFC3 and COS—maybe on MIDEX’s, etc. Looking for bright ideas
to salvage something from these excellent instruments.

If the President’s initiative is approved, even in its first phase,
there will be significant science involved, in which GSFC hopes to

Despite our own fundamental disappointment, we were on the periphery of
the project, and our main concern should be for those who spent the
last six years of their careers working on it and doing such a
beautiful job.

There are plenty of issues to work through, and we should still plan
to hold our February SOC meeting.

Regretfully — Bob

Editor’s note: This response was sent after this internal memo was posted online:

Dear Bob, Please allow me to correct an incorrect statement in your letter to the SOC. Code S did indeed identify funding to cover the SM4 slippage. But Code S did not oppose the decision of the Administrator. The decision was based, as you described in your letter, on safety. Code S fully supports the decision.

Sincerely, Anne Kinney

Anne L. Kinney

Director, Astronomy and Physics Division

Office of Space Science

NASA Headquarters

Related Links

  • Hubble Servicing Mission 4 (SM4), NASA GSFC

  • 31 July 2003: Expected Hubble Space Telescope Science Lifetime After SM4

  • 31 July 2003: NASA Hubble Space Telescope End of Mission (EOM) Options

  • 31 July 2003: NASA Office of Space Science HST-JWST Transition Plan

  • 31 July 2003: NASA Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Missions: An Astronaut’s Perspective

  • 31 July 2003: Increasing Hubble’s Capability with New Instruments

  • SpaceRef staff editor.