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NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe issued a call for proposals for a robotic Hubble Space Telescope servicing capability last week at the American Astronomical Society annual meeting in Denver. The announcement addresses a large public outcry following February’s cancellation of the space shuttle’s fourth and final servicing mission to the telescope, which would have allowed it to collect data past its predicted 2007 life span (C&EN, March 1, page 22). Although the call for proposals does not guarantee a robotic servicing mission, it gives new hope that the telescope’s viability will be extended. The request seeks plans for safely deorbiting the telescope, adding batteries and new gyroscopes, and installing new instruments. Proposals are due on July 16. This request for proposals “is the first step in a long process of developing the best options to save Hubble,” according to O’Keefe. “But we must act promptly to fully explore this approach.”
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