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Hubble Repair Mission Looks Likely

October 27, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The signs are looking promising for the Hubble Space Telescope, once thought doomed because of worries over astronaut safety.

NASA set plans for a big announcement Tuesday after top officials met for three hours Friday. Although there was no official word on the decision, the space agency sent out a press release about a gala announcement ceremony for Tuesday at the Goddard Space Center in suburban Washington, which helps oversee the 16-year-old space telescope.

The press release said the ceremony includes a ``news conference with the astronauts who would carry out the mission″ _ if the agency decides to go ahead with a shuttle flight to rehab the telescope.

The issue that NASA officials had to wrestle with was a matter of space shuttle safety. If the spacecraft heading to the aging telescope has a problem, there is no place to go for safe haven, unlike NASA’s 14 remaining shuttle missions to the international space station.

Although the space agency hasn’t said anything officially, all signs are pointing toward a go-ahead for Hubble’s repair, said University of Wisconsin-Madison astronomer Jay Gallagher, who is a member of a science team responsible for a camera in the Hubble Space Telescope.

``I think they’ve decided yes, but they haven’t done it officially,″ Gallagher said. ``Everything we’ve been hearing in our community is yes, so I’m hopeful that this is going to happen.″


AP reporter Mike Schneider in Cape Canaveral, Fla., contributed to this report.

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