Dear Friends and Colleagues --
I am writing to ask that you email
or fax Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes to express your support for the
Hubble Space Telescope. When you write to Senator Mikulski, please
thank her for the strong support she is giving to continuing Hubble
through the end of the decade.
As background, on January 16, 2004, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe
announced his decision to cancel future servicing missions to the
Hubble Space Telescope. He based the decision on the risk of
servicing missions under the shuttle safety constraints imposed by the
Columbia Accident Investigation Board, coupled with the cost of
assuring that servicing the Hubble telescope is as safe as traveling
to the International Space Station. On January 21, Senator Mikulski
sent a letter to Administrator O'Keefe asking that he convene an independent panel to review the
cancellation decision. The following day, the American Astronomical
Society, the largest professional scientific association for
astronomers and astrophysicists, endorsed the congressional call to
review the decision.
I believe it is important to buttress this support for Hubble by
writing our elected representatives. If we do not write, they may
conclude that prematurely ending Hubble's life does not
matter to us.
Some points that you might
- Canceling the SM4 the servicing mission will cost several hundred
jobs (many in Baltimore).
- Astronomers will lose five or more years of a preeminent
observatory that has revolutionized our view of the Universe. As one
colleague put it, "prematurely ending Hubble is like shooting a race
horse that is about to win the Triple Crown."
- NASA and the nation as a whole will lose a national treasure with
a value of several billion dollars that inspires the public and the
next generation of scientists.
- The decision about the cost and safety of a shuttle mission to
Hubble was made behind closed doors. Decisions involving national
treasures should be made in the open with wide input from scientists,
engineers, Congress and the American people.
- Shuttle launches will not resume until the foam breakaway problem
is solved. Only then can one compare the risk of going to Hubble
versus going to the International Space Station.
- The cost of robotically attaching a booster module to Hubble for a
controlled reentry may equal or exceed the cost of a final servicing
mission. NASA should take a broader view of the future of Hubble.
The addresses and fax numbers for our Senators are:
The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
709 Senate Hart Office Building
The United States Senate
Washington DC 20510-2003
FAX NUMBER: 202-224-8858
Paul S. Sarbanes
Washington Office 1-202-224-4524
309 Hart Building
US Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Fax Number: 202-224-1651
Please be respectful in your letter.
The future of the Space Telescope affects the future of astronomy
in America and the future of astronomy at the Johns Hopkins
University. We must all stand together in times like these.