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Robot to Hubble's Rescue?

NASA may try to launch an unprecedented robotic mission to service the Hubble space telescope. Citing safety concerns, NASA in January cancelled plans to send astronauts, sentencing the telescope to an early death. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe now says he is optimistic about the possibility of a robotic servicing mission.

O'Keefe has been hammered from all sides for his decision to retire Hubble early. Criticism came from astronomers, lawmakers and the public. A robotic rescue mission could get O'Keefe off the hook. He says tests of the idea in recent months have been encouraging. Yet working on Hubble's hardware is complicated, even for astronauts; some astronomers question if a robot is up to the challenge. NPR's David Kestenbaum reports.

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David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.