Shuttle flight to Hubble faces higher debris risk

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Next month's shuttle flight to the Hubble Space Telescope faces an increased risk from orbiting debris.

The shuttle Atlantis will be flying in a higher altitude where there's more space junk. Managers at NASA's highest levels will need to sign off on the mission because of the higher risk.

New numbers put the odds of a catastrophic strike by a micrometeorite at about 1-in-185. Shuttle program director John Shannon said Monday that compares to 1-in-300 odds for a shuttle flight to the international space station.

Hubble is at a considerably higher and dirtier orbit than the space station -- 350 miles versus just over 200 miles. Seven astronauts will be aboard the spaceship. It is now scheduled for launch on Oct. 10.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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