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The Hubble Lives On 132

Posted by Zonk
from the still-flying dept.
tanman writes "CNN reports that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has agreed to send astronauts on one final mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. No date was reported for the mission, other than before the shuttle fleet is retired. From the article, 'A rehab mission would keep Hubble working until about 2013. It would add two new camera instruments, upgrade aging batteries and stabilizing equipment, add new guidance sensors and repair a light-separating spectrograph. Without a servicing mission, Hubble will likely deteriorate in 2009 or 2010.'"
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The Hubble Lives On

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  • I hope... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kingrames (858416)
    I hope they get another Hubble Deep Field picture. I'd be happy if NASA just provided us with a bunch of those.
  • Actually, there is.
    I hope the mission goes smoothly and Hubble can continue.
  • With USA abandoning the Hubble and ISS, theres not much to be done in space. The Hubble at least should stay and take pictures, if nothing else. The pictures will motivate politicians and voters to pay for bigger projects.
    • by tha_mink (518151)
      "With USA abandoning the Hubble and ISS, theres not much to be done in space."

      What are you talking about? What about the James Webb Telescope. [nasa.gov] We ought to be able to see the start of the universe with that sucker.
      • The JWST is significantly different from the HST, in that the former is purely an infrared telescope. It will not be serviceable or upgradable, either, as its orbit will be at the L2 Lagrange point -- nearly a million miles from Earth.
    • The pictures will motivate politicians and voters to pay for bigger projects.
      Today Senator Pork Barrel said
      All that money for a few lousy pictures! I don't care how pretty they are, we need to cut back on federal expenditure to fund the war on terror.
  • This is a good first step, but is it too late? Don't they have a new deep space telescope on the books already?

    I'm sure the smart folks at NASA know what they are doing, and they actually know what programs are scheduled... If they need to fix Hubble to bridge the gap then let us get it done.

    • by x3nos (773066)
      I believe its scheduled for 2013 - JWST [wikipedia.org]. However it only does infrared imaging, whereas Hubble covers the visible spectrum.
      • by AlecC (512609)

        JWST [wikipedia.org]. However it only does infrared imaging, whereas Hubble covers the visible spectrum.

        "Only" does infrared? Actually, there is more information to be gathered in the infrared than there is in the visible. Developments in earth-based telescopes mean that they are catching up on Hubble, though Hubble still has some unique capabilities. But because the atmosphere absorbs IR, they are blind in that range. And there is just as much bandwidth and just as much interesting information out there in

        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          Actually, there is more information to be gathered in the infrared than there is in the visible.

          That may be, but there is information to be gathered in the visible that cannot be gathered in the infrared. We need both, and more besides.

          • by JATMON (995758)
            This is from the http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]:
            "JWST's instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range."
            • by drinkypoo (153816)
              IIRC the JWST has very poor visible light capability. AFAIK only the FGS-TF [stsci.edu] imaging unit can even support visible light, and it is intended to pull in only narrow frequency bands at a time. The other three imaging units are all infrared (mid and near.) This unit is also used for attitude guidance.
      • by JATMON (995758)
        Actually, according to the NASA press release (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/oct/HQ_06343 _HST_announcement.html [nasa.gov]), it is "tentatively targeted for launch during the spring to fall of 2008" and be able to continue to operate until about 2013.
    • This is a good first step, but is it too late? Don't they have a new deep space telescope on the books already?
      James Webb Space Telescope [nasa.gov], scheduled for launch in 2013, if everything goes as planned. It won't.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193)

      You, sir, have more faith in NASA's bureaucracy than I do. Having had to battle their system and watched one bone-headed decision after another, I salute your optimism but fear that it is misplaced.

      There is a new telescope in the works, but it's not due to launch until 2013. (This is the James Webb Space Telescope [nasa.gov].) It does not duplicate what HST does since it will primarily be an infrared telescope.

      • by tloh (451585)

        Having had to battle their system and watched one bone-headed decision after another.

        Please enlighten us. Not a troll or flame bait. Respectfully, I'm genuinely curious.

        • I recommend Eric Chaisson's book, "Hubble Wars" for lots of examples. He cites one example of STScI producing a mess of posters about HST for school classrooms. NASA made them destroy the posters because NASA's logo was the same size (not larger than) the SCScI and ESA logos. Another example: we're currently planning the Cassini extended mission. We've been given two years. Odds are that we'll end up with more than that, but they haven't allocated the funding. This matters because if we were allowed to
    • There would be a five year gap between the projected death of Hubble and the operation of the the New Space Telescope. And we know how Murphey's law complicates the situation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chris Burke (6130)
      This is a good first step, but is it too late? Don't they have a new deep space telescope on the books already?

      Yes, but it isn't exactly a replacement for Hubble, it's newer and better tech but also designed for different uses.

      I had heard previously that once the gyros were repaired and it had its orbit boosted that Hubble would last until 2020. It would be fantastic to have both HST and JWST operating at the same time. The article says only 2013 (when JWST is theoretically going to be launched), which ma
      • The gyros have always been the major weak point of the Hubble, and IIRC, they have been replaced on every mission. I would be astonished if the new group lasted much past 2013.
  • Hooray! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MtViewGuy (197597) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:11PM (#16658867)
    I am very happy that they've decided to launch one final Hubble servicing mission. This will allow the HST to operate until the James Webb Space Telescope is launched in 2013.
    • by bibi-pov (819943)
      Could someone enlighten me, and explain why parent was modded funny ? An informative mod seems more appropriate to me...
      • by vondo (303621) *
        Just a guess. None of the astronomers I talk to actually believe JWST will launch in 2013 if ever. I believe it is on the "schedule" but the funding allocated to it is nowhere near enough to build and launch it in that timeframe.
    • by GateGuy (973596)
      I have reread this comment 5 times trying to find the 'funny' part. I give up.
    • I am very happy that they've decided to launch one final Hubble servicing mission. This will allow the HST to operate until the James Webb Space Telescope is launched in 2013.

      Hubble could fail tommorow without causing a gap between now and the launch of the JWST - because the JWST is a different instrument, it is not a replacement for Hubble.
  • From the article:

    "The shuttle mission will likely be in early 2008."

    Now that's not exactly a launch date but I would say it is better then "No date was reported for the mission, other than before the shuttle fleet is retired."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:13PM (#16658911)
    CNN reports that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has agreed to send astronauts on one final mission
    Their sacrifice will be appreciated.
  • by steve-o-yeah (984498) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:13PM (#16658923)
    Support for Hubble SP1 has expired. Please upgrade to Hubble SP2.
    • by mknewman (557587) *
      Actually this will be Hubble SP4. They've done 3 repair missions so far. Marc
    • Thank you for choosing to download Hubble SP2. Before we can continue, Hubble Genuine Advantage needs to confirm that your copy of Hubble SP1 is a valid one. Do you wish to continue?

      Yes No Cancel
  • Awesome. I grew up in love with the idea of the Hubble. A remote optical platform from which to shoot insanely high-quality and far-reaching deep space photos is a powerful tool we should not let to waste.

    The willingness to keep the Hubble alive in the midst of so much strife in the world today has made me feel just a little bit better about today.
  • Re-entry (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A rehab mission would keep Hubble working until about 2013. It would add two new camera instruments, upgrade aging batteries and stabilizing equipment

    Part of the challenge is ensuring that the telescope will burn up on re-entry at the end of its working life. This will be solved by sole-sourcing the battery upgrade from Sony.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:14PM (#16658947) Journal
    Unlike the remaining 14 shuttle flights needed to finish space station construction, astronauts going to Hubble wouldn't have a refuge in the event of a catastrophic problem like the one that doomed Columbia. NASA would have another shuttle on the launch pad, ready to make an emergency rescue trip in case of trouble.
    Are they doing this because they're afraid of risking the shuttle or is NASA afraid of risking the astronauts?

    Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.
    • by Boman (899587)
      They are concerned about losing the crew.

      They have to be more risk-averse these days because the shuttle hardware is way more fragile and complicated than Apollo-program-era hardware.
      • by compro01 (777531)
        They have to be more risk-averse these days because the shuttle hardware is way more fragile and complicated than Apollo-program-era hardware.

        particularly due to the fact that the Apollo stuff was single-use-only the ablative heatshield was designed to work for one re-entry then get turfed, whereas the tiles in the shuttle need to withstand more re-entries, and is apparently difficult to tell when they need to be replaced.

        this is likely the reason why NASA is opting for replaceable one-time-use heatshields
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:28PM (#16659201)
      Are they doing this because they're afraid of risking the shuttle or is NASA afraid of risking the astronauts?

      Obviously the astronauts. They'd hate to lose another vehicle because it would probably end the shuttle program. However, the American people do not like 7 dead astronauts and neither does NASA. We would mourn astronauts more than the shuttle.

      Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.

      This is probably a fair statement, but there is no need to take risks like that to accomplish the current goals in space. We don't accept 1950's technology or safety standards in construction, aviation, automobiles, or health care - I see no reason to accept it in space. You certainly could argue that our goals are not lofty enough.

      You DO still see that risk-taking spirit, though. Spaceship One was pretty seat-of-the-pants.

      • by mirio (225059)
        You DO still see that risk-taking spirit, though. Spaceship One was pretty seat-of-the-pants.

        Hardly. Why was it seat of the pants? Because they didn't spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on it?

        I think if you researched it you would see that it was a fairly normal and very scientific undertaking. Burt Rutan is one of the greatest aeronautical minds of our time. I don't think he'll be truly appreciated until he's long gone.
        • by MightyYar (622222)
          I'm not denying the man's genius. However, the entire system was fairly spartan, and the backups were either basic or non-existent. That first shot up was basically an uncontrolled spin. NASA would never deliberately design a system with such a low safety margin. Note the word "deliberately" :) Personally, I admire the Rutan team's resourcefulness and giant brass balls.
    • On the other hand, 50 years ago, they could rely on simple and therefore more reliable systems.
      The shuttle is just not the good choice, it was designed to be reused (and therefore be less expensive and more available) and it ended up being overpriced and dangerous.
      This reminds me of the Spirit of St Louis. Every other plane used to try to cross the atlantic ocean had three engines but in the end couln't fly with only two of them because of the weight of the gas, what was supposed to be an advantage can be y
    • 50 years ago we were fighting for dominance over the russians. Now we are just exploring space. Human lives can be lost in the fight for dominance over another country (see: war) but for the peaceful pursuit of space? Politicians and the general public say no.
      • Human lives can be lost over just about anything a person deems is worth risking it for. People can lose their lives camping, skiing, driving to work in the morning, eating (see: Heimlich manuever. see also: obesity), or by just plain growing old. People can lose their lives helping other people (firefighters, police). People can lose their lives exploring mountains, caves, or the Great Barrier Reef (RIP Steve Irwin). People can sure as heck lose their lives exploring space. Death is a part of life. It's fo
        • What politicians and the general public should not accept is if NASA were to lie to their employees about the risks of what they do. Frankly, I don't think it's possible to convince well-educated engineers, scientists, and pilots working in a field where several percent of their colleagues have died on the job that there are not significant risks to their job.

          Agree. I have several friends in NASA and there is no misconception of the dangers involved. But the motivations from the 60's are not there anymor
    • Are they doing this because they're afraid of risking the shuttle or is NASA afraid of risking the astronauts?

      The astronauts. The reason they have the backup shuttle ready to go is so that in the event that the shuttle servicing Hubble undergoes irreparable damage during the mission and would not be able to safetly re-enter the atmosphere, the other shuttle can be launched to pick up its crew.

      At which point the original shuttle would most likely be lost. The astronauts would be safe, though, which is the
    • by Animats (122034)

      Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.

      Apollo did have such risk-averse behavior. The mission could be aborted at almost any point without losing the astronauts. The only point in the whole mission where a single engine failure was fatal were the few seconds just before landing on the moon.

    • by aztektum (170569)
      It's because male testosterone levels have dropped on average. We're too politically correct and soft these days. It's the continued "pussification" (Thanks to George Carlin). The "mans man" is gone.
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      That's why we need cheap, expendable vehicles with cheap, expendable crews.

      Now seriously, wouldn't it be incredibly useful to have a transfer vehicle docked to the ISS at all times, able to pick up a stranded shuttle crew and carry them back to the ISS?

      It could even be a simple, Progress-like vehicle. How much fuel would be needed for a couple orbit transfers? And in potential rescue missions like this, it could use an ion engine to take it to the pick-up point several weeks after undocking from the ISS. It
  • Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GreggBz (777373) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:18PM (#16659029) Homepage
    The cost of a shuttle mission, from Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]
    is between $60M and $1.5B.. let the debate ensue. Not to be rude, but I'm ignoring the slight potential for human loss.
    So many more people die in Iraq or Alaskan Crab Fishing or.. well.. you get the point.
    I'm sure there will be other missions and shuttle maintenance and general program costs in 2007 whether we fix the Hubble or not. So, it's logical to factor the cost of this mission kind of inversely, thinking rather, how much will we save if we do not repair the Hubble? Probably not a whole $1.3B estimated one way in the link above, much less.

    Regardless of how you intemperate the numbers, I think this is a good idea because:

    The Hubble works, and we have experience servicing and fixing it, so it's much more likely that all of this will go smoothly.
    We can get this done soon, whereas development of a another new telescope will undoubtedly take many times longer.
    The Hubble is very meaningful. It's still returning good science and inspirational pictures.
    It's functioning keeps a quite few scientists employed, and that's a good thing.
    It's good press. NASA needs to flourish. I think the "new NASA" is just starting to hit it's stride, despite an
    otherwise depressed national consciousness. We've had lots of enormously meaningful and successful unmanned missions lately, so yay NASA.
    • I don't get it. I'm a huge fan of the Hubble, but how does a $60M to $1.5B mission justify a mere 3 more years of life for the telescope?
      • by Luyseyal (3154)
        The always underestimate life expectancies. I think what they really mean is "it'll be good for three years before X breaks where X is, eh, pretty much anything that requires a servicing mission".

        -l
    • In my opinion, the mission is a good idea. Think of repairing/maintaining Hubble as an insurance policy. Rocketry and blasting things into space isn't easy as mishaps do occur and quite frequently. Satellites, Mars rovers, and other things blow up upon liftoff or fail to reach their intended orbits. The chance remains that when the new orbital telescope is ready for launch/deployment, something could go wrong (weren't the mirrors dorked up on Hubble when it first deployed?). With a working Hubble up there,
    • by kabocox (199019)
      The cost of a shuttle mission, from Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org] is between $60M and $1.5B.

      Let's just outsource it to India or China. No wonder we haven't been getting anywhere. What's really sad is that the US could fund a global version of NASA and have 4 groups with 4 Billion a Russian, Chinese, Indian, and US group and they'd get the most bang for their bucks from the others. Maybe that would be an idea for obtaining a voting blocks in those countries, by sponsoring a man power intensive space program in
    • Well, pretend we spent all the money on a new Hubble, not a James Webb IR satellite. Using lessons learned and leveraging new understandings of material science, we could get a super-Hubble. Of course, it'll take longer, but imagine a space telescope with a main lens that actually works!
      • We don't need a better visible-light space telescope, which is why Spitzer, WISE and James Webb are all infrared scopes - infrared is the band that is least able to penetrate our atmosphere.

        Now, if we put an array of space-based visible-light telescopes up, we could use them to "virtual lenses" thousands of kilometers in size; I'm off the edge of my math here, but I believe such an array would let you see surface features on planets in other solar systems.
    • The Hubble is very meaningful. It's still returning good science and inspirational pictures.

      This is not a small point, either. We're coming up on 10 years since the loss of Professor Sagan [wikipedia.org], and in all that time, nobody (to my knowledge) has really stepped forward to fill his shoes wrt popularizing science.

      The Hubble pictures are pretty much the only good advertising science gets. The Mars rovers are cool and everything, but nothing makes you stand back, slack-jawed, and drooling on the floor like t

  • by porkchop_d_clown (39923) <mwheinz@nOsPAM.me.com> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:20PM (#16659059) Homepage
    the Charismatic Megafauna problem would affect NASA?

    Since Hubble's replacement is already under construction [nasa.gov], and since ground based scopes like Keck [keckobservatory.org] exceed Hubble's capabilities, what is the benefit of dropping hundreds of millions of dollars repairing it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CorSci81 (1007499)
      Keck does exceed Hubble's capabilities for most practical and scientific purposes, and definitely with the dramatic improvement of adaptive optics technology some of the impetus for an optical space telescope is gone. That said, AO isn't perfect so there are still some uses for Hubble. AO can correct for a great deal of atmospheric turbulence, but Hubble still provides more stable images than current AO. Things like the deep field images still aren't terribly practical with a telescope such as Keck becau
      • If we put something even modestly larger than Hubble in space it would still be better than Keck for imaging.

        Which is why we should be working on replacing Hubble instead of fixing it.

        Can you imagine if we could put a scope in each of the Lagrange points and used interferometry to combine the images?
    • by Explo (132216) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:10PM (#16660005)
      Regarding the replacement (well, close enough, even though the JWST is more focused on infrared observations); yes, it's hopefully going to be launched to the space around 2013 or so. However, Hubble won't last that long and it would be quite inconvenient to have a gap of several years between them without any comparable IR/visible light telescopes in space.

      Regarding the ground-based telescopes, while adaptive optics and other fancy things allow them to outperform Hubble in some ways such as resolving power, there are still things they can't do. The ground-based telescopes are unable to observe anything for a significant part of the time because sun is happily shining on the sky and reflecting off the atmosphere. Likewise, no matter where you place the telescope under the atmosphere, weather will occasionally be an issue and atmosphere also tends to absorb some of the wavelenghts, although that's not a big issue on visible light. Additionally, atmospheric glow, no matter whether it's from reflected light pollution or natural [wikipedia.org], makes observations of very dim targets more difficult on the ground.
      • by thue (121682)
        It has been estimated that for 1.2B you could build the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope [wikipedia.org], with a diameter of 100m. The OWL would by far more powerful than Hubble; among other things it should be able to directly image Earth-like planets in orbit around other stars.

        I don't know what a shuttle mission+the equipment to fix Hubble will cost, but according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_program #Costs [wikipedia.org] total cost for the shuttle program alone divided by the number of launches gives 1.5B USD per laun
        • by Explo (132216)
          I'll sure be happy when/if OWL eventually materializes (currently it's still more a concept than 'real'), as it would undeniably be a revolutionary telescope.

          However, I don't really see Hubble service mission and OWL as direct competitors:

          - OWL is at least a decade away in the future even without any delays, whereas Hubble service mission (if it happens) is about a more immediate problem that needs to be addressed in a couple of years, unless 'we' accept a gap of several years in existence of large space-ba
      • by syousef (465911)
        Just a slight correction. The visible part of the spectrum is only a tiny part. The atmosphere is actually Opaque to MOST wavelengths. (First heavy weight lesson when I did my Astro masters was on atmospheric absorption at different wavelengths. Was a real eye opener!)

        Hopefully NASA admin's on again off again relationship with Hubble will be on again for long enough to get it serviced! To me the repair is a no-brainer.
        • That's all true - but Hubble is optimized for visible light; it has some near-infrared and near-uv capabilities, but NASA uses other space-based telescopes for the more exotic frequencies; Chandra for X-Rays, COBE for microwaves, Spitzer for infrared, Compton, etc..

          Don't get me wrong - space-based scopes are a great idea; but obsessing over Hubble instead of focusing on how to create something even better is pointless. As others have mentioned, for the price of a Hubble repair mission, you could create a tr
          • by syousef (465911)
            A truely monstrous array of telescopes will NOT do the same thing as Hubble. They'll do different science. Hubble has done fantastic science. These telescopes do cost big money but compared to other things the governments do, it's not that much. We should be maintaining Hubble until we have a direct replacement in the form of a space telescope.
      • And all things I am aware of, you can't spend any time at a telescope without being aware of light pollution - whether natural or not.

        But Hubble has similar problems - or did you think that Hubble hides in the Earth's shadow 24 hours per day? Long duration observations must be very carefully planned to avoid letting Hubble point even generally towards the sun; and moon glow and even earth glow are issues.
    • by TigerNut (718742)
      Keck (both I and II) got damaged during last week's earthquake ( article [keckobservatory.org]) and they're still working to get Keck II back to operational status. You never know when you will lose a valuable asset through a natural disaster... it would be ironic if the Keck system got wiped out shortly after the Hubble telescope was allowed to deteriorate beyond a reasonable threshold for maintenance or upgrading.
    • Since Hubble's replacement is already under construction, and since ground based scopes like Keck exceed Hubble's capabilities

      • There is no replacement for Hubble under construction. (I really wish this myth would go away.) The HST works in the Ultraviolet and Visible light bands with a tiny amount of functionality in the near Infrared. JWST has a tiny bit of capability in the Visible band, but is primarily designed to work in the Infrared band. JWST is a very different instrument
      • Ground based scopes
      • 1) Apparently you aren't considering the use of multiple scopes to get far, far higher resolution from groups of ground based scopes - like Keck - than you can get from Hubble's small mirror. There's reason Hubble isn't being used to look for extrasolar planets.

        2) Yes Webb works in a different band. Sorry, you won't get pictures as pretty. But you *will* get a much larger light gathering system than Hubble has, and you will get long term access to a band of light that... how did you put it? "Doesn't penetr
        • Apparently you aren't considering the use of multiple scopes to get far, far higher resolution from groups of ground based scopes - like Keck - than you can get from Hubble's small mirror. There's reason Hubble isn't being used to look for extrasolar planets.

          What makes you think I haven't considered it? Resolution is but one metric for comparing one telescope to another. (Just as hunting for extrasolar planets is but one research path being followed by astronomers.)

          Yes Webb works in a diff

          • My "argument" is that money spent on Hubble is better spent on other, newer telescopes. How does pointing out that Webb will be able to do work that ground based scopes can't, and will have greater light gathering power than Hubble, "refute" that?

            I suggest you rethink the rest of your replies as well, since you obviously never got that.
            • My "argument" is that money spent on Hubble is better spent on other, newer telescopes.

              Hubble will be a (partially) newer telescope with the installation of newer instruments, as the instruments as as important (if not more important) that the mirror. (The is why dozens of scopes. smaller than Palomar for example, are still in daily use.)

              Furthermore, cancelling Hubble does not mean that the money can be spent on better telescopes - because Federal budgeting doesn't work that way. The Webb is budg

  • Haven't you noticed that NASA funding has got little smaller during last few years? And shuttle problems were not the only factor to blame. Think Iraq. Do you have any idea how much that war costs? Somebody needs to pay, and the most vulnerable one will. Education, as always. Even when Bush is making big promises about conquring space and such, space will belong to Chinese. They're trying to catch West, and undoubtly will do it soon. And with their economy and, more important, political system it's more pos
    • The Iraq war has absolutely nothing to do with reductions in NASA's budget. Pubic interest has. Nobody has really cared about NASA or what it does since the Moon landing.

      Their budget has been dropping since the mid-70s - you might as well blame it on Vietnam.

    • Incorrect on both counts. NASA and especially education have both seen overall successive budget increases with the current administration. NASA's budget was cut 5 out of the 8 years of the previous administration.

      Budget of the United States Government
      Fiscal Year 2007

      HISTORICAL TABLES
      http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/sheets /hist04z1.xls [whitehouse.gov]
  • NASA is going to take some risks and put people in space again to work for the advancement of science. I understand space travel, even to orbit, is expensive and not without risk, but so do the men and women who work so hard to get into space and the crews who work to get them there.
    Given budgets and political priorities after the shuttle fleet is retired their may not be another NASA manned vehicle for 20 or 25 years. I am glad to see every useful launch between now and the end of the shuttle program.
  • So, as risk mitigation in case the orbiter is damaged during this mission and cannot safely return to earth, NASA will have another shuttle ready to launch and go get the astronauts. Can you imagine transferring from one shuttle to another while in orbit? I'm guessing they would try an autonomous landing, now that they can deploy the landing gear remotely (http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=4582) .
    • Can you imagine transferring from one shuttle to another while in orbit?
      worst case: line up the shuttles, get the people to put on thier spacesuits and climb accross from one airlock to the other, i can't see how it would be much harder than any other spacewalk.

      btw how exactly does the space shuttle dock with the ISS and could that mechanism be used for a shuttle to shuttle transfer avoiding the need to do it as a spacewalk.

  • FTA "....upgrade aging batteries..."

    I certainly hope they are not sony or dell batteries!
  • I smell something fishy. My guess is that the batteries were manufactured by Sony and this is the real reason for the mission to repair. This will officially be the longest distance battery recall in history.
  • There are a few important things about the servicing mission. First of all, almost all of the parts are just sitting in a warehouse at the moment waiting to fly. The whole question about the servicing mission isn't a question of money, it's a question of whether the mission can be done safely without losing another shuttle.

    As an astronomer, I can tell you that HST can do things that no other telescope can do. The Keck telescopes are bigger (frankly, there are lots of telescopes bigger, including the new
  • One of my dance partners works fairly high up in NASA, and he said that this morning's announcement is actually telegraphing NASA's intention to cancel the Webb space telescope. Its funding is expected to go instead to the Mars missions... indeed, Mars is going to suck up the funding of practically everything else.

    • BS. First of all, there are no Mars missions on the books of the scope of JWST. By far the biggest, the Mars Surface Laboratory is projected to come in around $1 billion. JWST is a roughly $4 billion project. The plans for Mars are fairly well established through 2013, and there's nothing in there that doesn't already have it's own money. In fact, the only candidate of similar scale is the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, which has already been postponed indefinitely (read "cancelled").

      Second, if you thought t
  • This is why we're in space. It's not to "fully exploit space" and, as such must "control it." We've learned a lot in very recent history. Since I was a child, the robotic missions to the far reaches of the solar system have taken us from very primitive knowledge to a better understanding of the nature of the universe and all the cool stuff out there. NASA being used to push political rhetoric gets in the way. This is a good development.
  • The images from Hubble have captured the public's imagination for years. I'm glad that NASA found a way to keep Hubble around a little bit longer.
  • by john_uy (187459)
    how much will it cost to service hubble? will it be cheaper to just create an equivalent telescope and launch it? or create a better scope and launch it?

    just realized the practicality of keeping something so old might leave us out of something new.

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly. -- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

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