When I read of the Hubble Space Telescope–repair controversy (“People, Not Robots: Panel favors shuttle mission to Hubble,” SN: 12/18&25/04, p. 388; and this article), this question comes to mind: Why can’t an unmanned, powered vehicle latch on to Hubble and fly it to the International Space Station, where it could be repaired by the station’s occupants, then returned?

James Hendry
Florissant, Mo

David S. Leckrone, senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope Project, calls this “a very good question.” The basic problem, he explains, is that Hubble and the space station are in orbits with very different inclinations to the equator. It would require about 36,000 pounds of fuel to change Hubble’s orbit to that of the space station and back, and Hubble wasn’t designed to operate well at the station’s orbit. Says Leckrone, “It is an appealing idea that really isn’t feasible.” —R. Cowen