I'm sitting here watching NASA TV, with the Big Damn Press Conference. They sure are taking their sweet time getting around to announcing the decision... OK Mike Griffin just started talking... and they definitely are going to add a Hubble servicing mission the shuttle launch manifest. I'm sure there will be lots of commentary about this among the various space blogs today, so I will be assembling summaries of these comments in an update or two later on.
Update: Well, most of the other space geek blogs have commented on the decision by saying only that the mission is going to happen. Astroprof points out what makes this Hubble repair mission different from other shuttle missions:
Missions to the International Space Station have the option of hanging around there until help arrives if the shuttle is seriously damaged in liftoff. That is not an option for missions to HST ... The Vehicle Assembly Building is large enough to support operations needed to prepare two shuttles for launch. NASA may choose to delay slightly the modifications necessary to pad 39B until after the HST servicing mission. That would permit a backup shuttle could be ready to launch on a rescue mission if needed.The Hubble repair mission should happen sometime around May, 2008. If there are any problems that would prevent safe re-entry of the space shuttle performing that mission, a second shuttle would be dispatched on a rescue mission. That would mark the first time ever that NASA had two shuttles in orbit at the same time.
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