Even Mars Society president Robert Zubrin, who's best known for advocating human colonization of the red planet, hammered NASA.
"This was the most important thing the shuttle would do in its remaining lifetime," he said. "Most of its other missions are science-fair stuff. The Hubble is a milestone in human intellectual history, and this decision is a crime against science.
"What's happening is that a bunch of bureaucrats are wanting to feel decisive, to show they can make the tough calls to support the president's moon and Mars program. They'll say: 'Much as it might rend our hearts, we're willing to give this up.' That's all a crock," Zubrin said. "If the first thing this new space policy does is murder Hubble, then it's born with the mark of Cain on it."
Space policy analyst John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org sees dark motivations behind the move. He argues that President Bush has made clear what will be abandoned in the short term, but has scheduled non-military missions like colonizing Mars far over the political horizon so that succeeding administrations can cancel them without controversy.
"I think it is sort of symptomatic of this administration's orderly dismantling of the American space program," he said.
But the greatest outpouring of support for the Hubble and hostility to NASA's decision has come from the grass-roots community of science enthusiasts, Villard said.
Slooh.com, an online service providing live links to telescopes, has taken a leading role in organizing Hubble fans, launching SaveTheHubble.org to petition Congress to provide additional funding to keep the Hubble aloft and in service.
Sign this one as well. And while you're waiting for the petition to load ask yourself about the depth of thought behind the Bush Mars project.