Space Science:

Status of the Hubble Space Telescope Program

NSIAD-88-118BR: Published: May 2, 1988. Publicly Released: May 9, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information regarding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Program, focusing on: (1) the program's current cost, schedule, and performance status; (2) the Space Telescope Science Institute's role in the program; and (3) NASA orbital maintenance plans for the telescope.

GAO found that: (1) technical and management difficulties and a space shuttle accident delayed the telescope's launch, now scheduled for June 1989; (2) this delay increased estimated development costs from $435 million in 1978 to over $1.4 billion; (3) estimated operations, maintenance, and refurbishment costs total about $2.8 billion through fiscal year 1993; (4) HST program and NASA officials are extensively testing the telescope; (5) NASA contracted with the Space Telescope Science Institute to solicit and select astronomers' HST observational proposals and to collect, archive, and distribute HST data; (6) NASA has a memorandum of agreement with the European Space Agency to provide the Institute with 15 full-time staff to assist it in disseminating data in Europe; (7) NASA plans to provide the Institute with funds to allocate to American scientists' and certain American-employed foreign nationals' observational proposals; and (8) NASA is studying ways to reduce the number of maintenance and reboost missions currently necessary.

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