The White House is reported ready to eliminate funding to service the Hubble Space Telescope and has directed the U.S. space agency NASA to focus on de-orbiting the popular spacecraft.

According to a report by the online news service Friday, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will announce the decision to scrap the repair mission when he reveals the space agency's 2006 budget request in February.

The Earth-orbiting observatory has operated continuously for 14 years, providing incredibly sharp celestial images that have made significant contributions to astronomical research.

NASA has been unable to complete the final repair mission for Hubble due to the grounding of the space shuttle fleet following the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia in February 2003.

Sources say lawmakers are likely to try to restore funding to repair the telescope, which has widespread support.