Call me a big goofy geek, but I actually teared up when I heard the news today that NASA has decided to schedule a Hubble repair mission for Discovery, reversing an earlier decision. The mission will likely happen in 2008 and should keep Hubble viable until 2013.
The mission is not a trivial one. It could involve up to five space walks and considerable risk to astronauts. What was so touching to me, besides the reversal of the previous NASA admin’s decision in general, was the petition that was signed by dozens of astronauts saying they were willing to risk their lives for Hubble. On the news tonight, they had one astronaut who said he talked it over with his family and they all agreed that it was that important.
When I was a teen, dreaming of space, thinking that we would have a significant presence there by the turn of the century, this was the kind of pioneering spirit that really fired my boosters. Like being called to military service or the ministry, I, like a lot of other geeky children of the ’60s, felt the call of space. So often, that seems like a future which didn’t happen, at least not yet. So, when a little glimmer of this future shows through the Fundamentalist Terrordom we’re so-far calling the 21st century, you can see where I might feel a little swell of hope.
So, Godspeed, brave Discovery. Polish up our space telescope, we’ve got billions of galaxies and trillions of stars we need to eyeball.
Read full coverage of the announcement, mission, and the Hubble, here at Space.com.