Big Gamble in Space

A shuttle mission aims to save the Hubble telescope -- and NASA's reputation

For the beleaguered masters of America's sputtering space program, the word Hubble has been a synonym for trouble. Launched three years ago and billed as the most magnificent scientific instrument ever put into orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope quickly became known as the $1.5 billion blunder. The very first images from the telescope revealed that its primary mirror was deformed, leaving the instrument distressingly nearsighted.

While computer tricks have helped the Hubble get a good look at a distant supernova and storms on Saturn, the telescope's accomplishments have fallen far short of expectations, and its crippled condition has grown progressively worse....

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