Hubble and NASA

You've got to wonder what the guys at NASA are thinking (from Wired)...

Hubble Space Telescope: 1990-2007 NASA officials adamantly defend the decision not to perform any more service missions to Hubble -- which means one of the greatest scientific instruments in history will die as early as 2007. By Amit Asaravala.

And here's the one that really gets me... would be too difficult for NASA to prepare a second, backup shuttle on the ground in case of an emergency during the Hubble mission. The backup plan would be required under the agency's new safety policies, set forth after seven astronauts died in last year's Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.

I wish that everyone was safe all of the time and that nothing bad ever had to happen to anyone. That said, why are we trying to make space flight the safest thing that you can do on the planet? Since when do we put safety above all other considerations? How would a backup shuttle have saved the astronauts on the Columbia? If NASA worked this way in the 60's, I doubt that we would have ever gotten to the moon at all.

It's difficult to put people in harm's way. We need to make a space fight as reasonably safe as it can be given the technology we have. But if we're going to allow one of the most important pieces of scientific equipment in history be destroyed just because we were too afraid to fix it, then that is just another tragedy.