Changing Hubble Opinions from NASA’s Ed Weiler

By Keith Cowing
July 23, 2005
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Changing Hubble Opinions from NASA’s Ed Weiler

In the 18 July edition of Space News, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director (and former Associate Administrator for Space Science) Ed Weiler says that he did not agree with the way that former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe handled the Hubble Space Telescope issue.

Curiously, Weiler took a totally different stance in late 2003 as O’Keefe was preparing to make his decision about not sending the SM-4 Shuttle Servicing mission to repair and reboost Hubble. Indeed, Weiler was outright supportive of what O’Keefe was thinking of announcing a few months hence – and he put it in writing.

In a formal letter sent to senior NASA Headquarters management in early November 2003 – one wherein Weiler repeatedly professes support for NASA’s Return to Flight effort – Weiler said “The unique orbit of the telescope does not allow for use of the International Space Station (ISS) as a “safe haven” and we are convinced that the enhanced science, even after addition of the new instruments now planned, does not justify accepting more risk than is presently being assumed for the ISS flights.”

Weiler continues, saying “As presently configured, HST can survive for extended periods, even if it is not doing science, and its survival should not be a schedule driver for the foreseeable future. If HST has to be placed in safe mode for a period of time, so be it. There is no HST situation that warrants taking additional risk to the safety of the astronauts or workers processing the shuttle.”

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.