WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to propose cuts in funds to fix the aging Hubble Space Telescope, a U.S. official said Saturday, as the head of the telescope project said he hoped Congress would approve money for repairs.
The 14-year-old orbiting observatory has produced path-breaking science and created a popular appetite for its spectacular images of the cosmos. It is due for a servicing mission to replace its batteries and the gyroscopes that keep it steady, and to upgrade some of its equipment.
The repair mission has been on hold since the Feb. 1, 2003, disintegration of space shuttle Columbia. Debate in the astronautical community has raged over whether to send robots or astronauts to fix the telescope, or whether to fix it at all.
Reports on the website www.space.com and in the Washington Post said the Bush administration planned to scrap any Hubble repair mission and eliminate those funds from the proposed budget for fiscal 2006. A U.S. official confirmed those reports.
Bush will release his fiscal 2006 budget proposal Feb. 7.