Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Alexis Madrigal reports that NASA, dealing with cost overruns on the next-generation Hubble which have been eating up the science budget, just got a surprise gift from the Department of Defense — two, unflown, better-than-Hubble space telescopes that the US military just happens to have sitting around. Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office are no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens. But the gift raises an interesting question. If the DOD doesn't need these two birds, which are both better than any civilian telescope, what *do* they have? Are drones replacing space telescopes? Are there much better telescopes already up there? NASA doesn't have the money to launch either telescope at the moment, and at the very earliest, under reasonable budgets, it will be 2020 before one of the two gifted telescopes could be in order. "This is the state of our military-industrial-scientific complex in miniature," writes Madrigal. "The military has so much money that it has two extra telescopes better than anything civilians have; meanwhile, NASA will need eight years to find enough change in the couches at Cape Canaveral to turn these gifts into something they can use. Anyone else find anything wrong with this state of affairs?""
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