|NASA Insists That Hubble Must Meet Fiery End - February 10th 2004|
Following weeks of speculation as to whether NASA would permit further shuttle missions to return to service the Hubble Space Telescope the organisation has finally reached the final decision that a return is out of the question and the satellite must meet a fiery end and burn up into debris whilst crashing through the earth’s atmosphere.
The decision is controversial and has disappointed many scientists and space enthusiasts. Whilst the Hubble Space Telescope has been one of NASA’s most successful projects – if not the most successful – NASA’s Chief, Sean O’Keele, has ruled that a Shuttle Trip to anywhere other than the International Space Station would pose too great a risk to the lives of the space shuttle astronauts.
Keith Wilson, a leading scientist in space exploration agrees with NASA’s decision:
“It is a logical decision of NASA to punish its most competent scientists for the mistakes of its least competent. It shows there is no discrimination across the board.
“Had the scientists responsible for determining whether it was safe for Columbia to return to Earth after it received damage during take off actually bothered to examine the shuttle they would have undoubtedly reached a different conclusion and not only would Hubble be saved, but also Columbia’s crew.”
Columbia’s crew was lost when the Space Shuttle burnt up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The accident was caused after its protective heat shield was damaged during takeoff. Despite being aware that the shuttle was damaged the scientists responsible determined Columbia was safe to return without even attempting to do a visual inspection of the damage.
It is a consequence of this decision that Hubble will no longer be serviced – as any mission to the telescope would not allow the astronauts to get to the space station if something went wrong NASA has deemed it far too dangerous to return for any mission, even if it means the loss of Hubble.
The Hubble Space Telescope continues to return the most detailed and useful photographs from all areas of the Universe, confirming many scientific theories and even leading to new ones, which would otherwise be unconsidered. The telescope has told us much about the birth of the Universe, something no other device has been able to do to a satisfactory standard. This, Keith Wilson reasons, is probably the most logical reason for letting it perish:
“The Hubble Space Telescope has told us so much about the birth of the Universe, previously one of the least understood areas of science. Turn that the other way around and presumably it could also tell us a lot about the ultimate unknown – death. I for one can’t wait for the fantastic pictures it sends back as it crashes through the atmosphere.”
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