WASHINGTON — Michael D. Griffin, President Bush's nominee to become the new NASA administrator, told senators at his confirmation hearing Tuesday that he would reassess the agency's decision not to use a space shuttle to service the aging Hubble Space Telescope.
Griffin also said he would do his best to hasten the development of a new spacecraft to replace the shuttle, noting that the scheduled retirement of the orbiter in 2010 could begin a five-year period in which the United States would have to use foreign-built spaceships for manned flights until a replacement is ready.
"The decision not to execute the planned shuttle servicing mission was made in the immediate aftermath of the loss of the Columbia," said Griffin, a Johns Hopkins University physicist.
"When we return to flight, it will be with essentially a new vehicle, which will have a new risk analysis associated with it. At that time, I think we should reassess the earlier decision in light of what we learn after we return to flight."