Letter from Eugene Cernan to Sen. Hutchinson Regarding Hubble Space Telescope Servicing by NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
June 18, 2004
Filed under ,

June 16, 2004

The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison

United States Senate

284 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Hutchison:

Two weeks ago I consented to have my name affixed to a letter addressed to you expressing concern over the future of the Hubble telescope. I did so without participating as an author and without seeing a copy of the letter beforehand – regrettably breaking my own longstanding rules concerning the endorsement of someone else’s agenda. In addition, I had no idea that the subject letter was headed for The President’s desk – I just assumed it was meant to get Sean O’Keefe’s attention. Nor was I aware at that time of both the technical and political ramifications that manned Hubble servicing might have on the return of the shuttle to flight – both expeditiously and safely. In the past ten days, I have spent considerable time exploring the impact that manned Hubble servicing requirements can have on the near term future of the shuttle and as a result am far more aware of the challenges involved in meeting the requirements placed upon certifying the shuttle for its return to space. I am now better informed, am a little wiser on the subject, and today am retracting my support as expressed in the subject letter. I believe we all realize the significance of both the scientific results of and public interest in the Hubble. I also believe that if there is a way either manned or robotically, the Hubble will continue to be a serviceable asset without comprising the shuttle’s primary mission of space station completion.

With this letter I hope to correct a “knee-jerk reaction” to a request for my support for an issue that may have merit, but under the current environment, is certainly in need of further study.

Thank you, Senator Hutchison, for the leadership role you play in Washington. I look forward to our next visit.


Eugene A. Cernan


SpaceRef staff editor.