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NASA, Builder to Share Blame in Final Report on Hubble Flaws

November 26, 1990|From Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — NASA and the manufacturer share the blame for a flawed mirror that prevents the $1.5-billion Hubble Space Telescope from focusing clearly, a member of a NASA panel said.

The investigative panel's final report on the telescope will criticize both the space agency and the Perkin-Elmer Corp., said John Mangus, head of the optics branch of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's space technology division. The report is to be released Tuesday.

Mangus said the flaws in the manufacture of the 94 1/2-inch telescope in 1980 and 1981 can be partly traced to the same management climate that led to the fatal explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

In both cases, he said, engineers were discouraged from bringing potential problems to the attention of their superiors.

"The culture has to be encouraged where you don't shoot the messenger," he said in a Hartford Courant story published Sunday.

"People don't like bad news, but what they like worse is not to be told about the problems. I know it has occurred on many of NASA's projects."

The immediate cause of the Hubble flaw was a technician's mistake, but program managers approved the quality-control program that allowed the mistake to escape detection, the investigatory board concluded.

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