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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 16:30 GMT
Space lab plans lift off
Hubble view of a galaxy
Astronomers can now install bigger telescopes
Astronomers in Edinburgh have been given the green light for a new space laboratory, which will allow them to build parts for the replacement of the Hubble space telescope.

The move paves the way for the city's Royal Observatory to make new discoveries in space.

US space agency Nasa had backed the plans to replace the exisiting building on Blackford Hill with a spacious new laboratory.

The planning permission from city councillors means that bigger telescopes can now be installed which will provide a deeper view into space.

James Webb Space Telescope
Astronomers will provide parts to the James Webb space telescope
Councillors approved the plans despite letters of complaints from local people who were worried about disruption to their neighbourhood while the building work was carried out.

Welcoming the announcement, Tim Hawarden, project scientist at the observatory, said: "It is very, very good news for us and we are extremely proud.

"If the decision had not gone our way it would have seriously impeded our progress and we would not have been able to move forward with our work.

Major projects

"This means we will have big profile projects coming up, in particular supplying parts for the replacement of the Hubble space telescope.

Mr Hawarden explained that many parts on new telescopes are very large and the observatory staff currently did not have enough space to work in.

One major project observatory staff will undertake in their new laboratory is the building of parts for the James Webb space telescope.

It is named after James E Webb, the administrator of Nasa during the Apollo lunar exploration era.

Due for launch in 2010, it is being built by Californian company TRW at a cost of $824.8m.

See also:

26 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
08 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
12 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
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