Hubble Space Telescope to be burnt up; Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter cancelled

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 The revolutionary space telescope that brought great images of space back down to Earth will lose out in NASA's budget reorganisation for 2006. While NASA's budget will increase by 2.6%, most of Hubble's $93 million in funding will be directed into bringing it safely to Earth. The big winners include the space shuttle program and the International Space Station, including the development of a new Shuttle replacement.

A planned fifth maintenance job on the space telescope was cancelled as a result of the Columbia disaster, and experts argue as to how long it can remain useful to scientists. It is expected to fail irreversibly by 2007 if vital work is not done.

Another project to bite the dust was the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO), which would have been the largest satellite ever sent to the outer solar system. It was to have featured a new form of nuclear reactor as propulsion, but instead NASA has allocated $320 million to developing nuclear technologies in space in a less aggressive, more stepped approach.

In a January 2004 speech, George W. Bush proposed a human return to the Moon and a first journey to Mars. This grand aim is behind the agency's new budget, with $6.8 billion (over one-third of the total) devoted to the ISS, Space Shuttle and space travel support.