Congressional Research Service


Date of this Version



Published by Congressional Research Service,, RS21767


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) estimates that without a servicing mission to replace key components, the Hubble Space Telescope will cease scientific operations in 2008 instead of 2010. In January 2004, then-NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe announced that the space shuttle would no longer be used to service Hubble. He indicated that this decision was based primarily on safety concerns in the wake of the space shuttle Columbia accident in 2003. Many critics, however, saw it as the result of the new Vision for Space Exploration, announced by President Bush in January 2004, which focuses NASA’s priorities on human and robotic exploration of the solar system. Hubble supporters hope to reverse the decision and proceed with a shuttle servicing mission. Dr. Michael Griffin, who became NASA Administrator in April 2005, has stated that he will reassess whether to use the shuttle to service Hubble after there have been two successful post-Columbia shuttle flights. Problems during the first flight in July 2005 led to postponement of the second, which is now planned for July 2006. This report will be updated.