Recently in Hubble Category

Hubble's Problems Fixed

NASA Hubble Update: July 16, 2021 - NASA Successfully Switches to Backup Hardware on Hubble Space Telescope

"NASA has successfully switched to backup hardware on the Hubble Space Telescope, including powering on the backup payload computer, on July 15. The switch was performed to compensate for a problem with the original payload computer that occurred on June 13 when the computer halted, suspending science data collection."

Keith's note: Yesterday NASA named its headquarters building after Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA. By coincidence Wil Pomerantz, Vice President of Virgin Orbit, started a Twitter effort to change the name of Stennis space Center - with some solid reasons based its namesake's segregationist past as to why it should be considered. I asked via Twitter why the bust of Nazi rocketeer Wernher von Braun stands in a place of honor at Marshall Spaceflight center - a center whose namesake George C. Marshall had issues with integrating troops during World War II.

At a time when everyone seems to be taking a hard look at commemorating past events with a light shone on racism and the denial of human rights, one would think that someone at NASA would reconsider having the heroic bust of a Nazi SS member who used slave labor to build his rockets as the way to greet people who arrive for work every day at NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. NASA openly admits that von Braun used slave labor. Yes he was the first center director at Marshall and led a large part of the Apollo effort that landed humans on the Moon. No one is suggesting that this be erased from the history books. But should NASA continue to honor him like this?

Campaign to Rename Stennis Space Center Kicks Off, SpacePolicyOnline

"In a statement, NASA responded that the agency is dedicated to advancing diversity, but did not agree or disagree with the idea of renaming the Center. 'NASA leadership is sensitive to the discussions of racism, discrimination and inequalities going on around the world. We are aware of conversations about renaming facilities and ae having ongoing discussions with the NASA workforce on this topic. NASA is dedicated to advancing diversity and we will continue to take steps to do so.' "

How Much Did Wernher von Braun Know, and When Did He Know It?, Smithsonian

"Michael Neufeld: I agree that he didn't have much, if any, power. And that to say very much of anything was dangerous for him personally. But, again, I would emphasize his personal responsibility for having gone along with this regime, in its aggressive war plans, in building weapons for Hitler, in being a loyal member of the Third Reich, and being a member of the party and the SS. And being personally responsible for using concentration camp labor."

Biography of Wernher Von Braun, NASA

"The V-2 assembly plant at the Mittelwerk, near the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, used slave labor, as did a number of other production sites. Von Braun was a member of the Nazi Party and an SS officer, yet was also arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 for careless remarks he made about the war and the rocket."

Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp

"The inmates at Dora-Mittelbau were treated in a brutal and inhumane manner, working 14-hour days and being denied access to basic hygiene, beds, and adequate rations. Around one in three of the roughly 60,000 prisoners who were sent to Dora-Mittelbau died."

Keith's 9 March note: Let's see how many of you pay close attention to all of the photos that NASA releases from Hubble - there have been so many over the past 20+ years. Where is this image from?

Keith's 10 March update: OK, so I played a trick on some of you when originally posted this yesterday. This is not a Hubble image. It is actually a portion of a photo I took yesterday in the woods near my house.

By an utterly eerie coincidence, this press release came out today .... Astronomers use slime mold model to reveal dark threads of the cosmic web: "A computational approach inspired by the growth patterns of a bright yellow slime mold has enabled a team of astronomers and computer scientists at UC Santa Cruz to trace the filaments of the cosmic web that connects galaxies throughout the universe."

I am a biologist - who used to work for NASA - and I run the website. So I see biological and astronomical pattern similarities pretty much everywhere. I was wondering if others did too. When I looked down into this stream yesterday I was immediately reminded of the Eagle Nebula aka The Pillars of Creation, Based on the responses, it looks like I am not alone. The connections between microscopic life on Earth and the vast structure of the cosmos are obvious. Oh yes, and I watched "Cosmos" on TV last night, so ....

Hubble Is Working Again

Hubble Finds Two Chaotically Tumbling Pluto Moons

"If you lived on one of Pluto's moons Nix or Hydra, you'd have a hard time setting your alarm clock. That's because you could not know for sure when, or even in which direction, the sun would rise. A comprehensive analysis of all available Hubble Space Telescope data shows that two of Pluto's moons, Nix and Hydra, are wobbling unpredictably. Scientists believe the other two moons, Kerberos, and Styx, are likely in a similar situation, pending further study."

- News briefing materials

- Resonant interactions and chaotic rotation of Pluto's small moons, Nature (it costs $32 to read this article if you do not subscribe to Nature)

- Update: The text is online here - for free.

Celestial Fireworks Celebrate Hubble's 25th Anniversary (With Amazing Video)

"This glittering tapestry of young stars exploding into life in a dramatic fireworks display has been released today to celebrate 25 incredible years of the Hubble Space Telescope. The NASA/ESA Hubble was launched into orbit by the Space Shuttle on 24 April 1990. It was the first space telescope of its kind, and has surpassed all expectations, providing a quarter of a century of discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science."

Keith's note: Early this morning the @NewHorizons twitter posted "RT @AlanStern: Just announced: Pluto has new company-- We've discovered a 5th moon using the Hubble Space Telescope!". Why did the New Horizons PI get totally out ahead of everyone - his own team, NASA, STScI, even the IAU?

A NASA spacecraft, operated using NASA funds, was used to observe the target for another NASA mission, and discovered a new moon billions of miles away. Yet when I asked for the official press release early this morning, NASA PAO was unaware of this discovery. No press release has yet to be issued by NASA, STScI, JHU, or SwRI (I sent a request to all of them hours ago). Apparently NASA-funded discoveries can now be announced by anyone - in any fashion they so desire - without giving NASA a heads-up. Yet another example as to how NASA SMD PAO is in need of a tune up.

Keith's 12:00 pm update: Scientists at SwRI even gave one publication advance notice of the discovery even though SwRI refuses to respond to a media request for a press release sent hours ago. Meanwhile, STScI posted a release at 11:30 am but have not even bothered to send it out to the media - posting at only occurred a short while ago - again with no media notice.

According to an email from J.D. Harrington at NASA PAO: "The Institute posted a news release, Goddard posted a web feature, and HQ put it on the NASA home page promptly at 11:30 a.m. after confirming the IAU circular announcing the finding was published. We didn't want to get out in front of them. It's also been heavily promoted on our social media forums..." The initial Tweet was posted at 3:39 am - but not by NASA. NASA waited 6 hours. Isn't this just a just a little odd - that NASA has to go use an IAU circular to confirm things discovered with its own spacecraft? Who informed the IAU? Aren't the people who make these discoveries using NASA hardware required to inform the agency of things like this? Guess not.

And of course if you try to actually read the IAU circular (IAUC 9253) about this discovery made using NASA funds - you can't - at least not without a user name or password.

NRO Gifts NASA Two Leftover Space Telescopes, SpacePolicyOnline

"The CAA's response to the newswas rather muted. The reaction was surprisingly flat for a community that received a fairly valuable gift. At a media teleconference later in the day, NASA's Michael Moore, deputy astrophysics division director,estimated thatabout $250 million in mission costs could be avoided by using one ofthe NRO telescopes. He added that the telescopes cost about $75,000-$100,000 to storeat the manfacturer's (ITT Excelis) facilities in Rochester, NY. In response to a question atthe media teleconference, Hertz said he thought CAA members were "excited at the possibilities," while Dressler acknowledged that some people "need to have a lot more time" to consider the situation. This is a "sharp right turn," he added, compared to what was recommended in NWNH."

'Free' spy telescopes come to NASA with a cost, Nature

"But on Tuesday, NASA was still keeping relatively quiet about the apparent windfall. "We're not pushing this information like we normally do," said Michael Moore, NASA's acting deputy director for astrophysics."

Keith's note: OK. So the status quo seems to be grumpy, cautious, etc. about another means to accomplish THEIR expensive long term astronomy plan without any sudden "right turns". Are there not other uses that this hardware could be put to - ones that have minimal involvement with these stuffy folks who are all set in their high-cost way of doing business? Every time I have tried to engage NASA's representatives about out-of-the-box thinking about alternate ways to use these telescopes from NRO they quickly retreat into their shells saying "its too early to discuss this". Well gee, they have had a chance to talk about this among themselves for a year and a half! If this behavior persists I am afraid that NASA will simply be spending the equivalent of someone's college education every year storing the stuff in Rochester, New York. Remember Triana aka 'Goresat'? Where is it now?

Its interesting how NASA's human exploration programs all seek a "flexible path" as they structure their programs and missions, yet NASA's space science programs seem to lack that capability - or any interest in emulating it.

Spy agency gives NASA two spare Hubbles, Washington Post

"I'm told by a government engineer with knowledge of the new instruments that they're "a successful part of an otherwise failed program on the NRO side."

NASA has a mission for grounded spy telescopes, SpaceflightNow

"But the 94-inch aperture on the NRO optical system will permit Hubble-class resolution over a wide field-of-view - imaging a swath of the sky 100 times larger than Hubble can see in a single exposure."

U.S. Launches Costly Overhaul of Spy Satellites, LA Times (1995)

"It's like looking at the world through a soda straw," said one defense industry consultant of the existing spy satellites. The 8X program would redress that shortcoming by covering roughly 800 to 1,000 square miles in each photograph, with roughly the same resolution as the existing satellites..."

In Death of Spy Satellite Program, Lofty Plans and Unrealistic Bids, NY Times (2007)

"The panel reported that the project, called Future Imagery Architecture, was far behind schedule and would most likely cost $2 billion to $3 billion more than planned, according to records from the satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office. ... It took two more years, several more review panels and billions more dollars before the government finally killed the project -- perhaps the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects. The story behind that failure has remained largely hidden, like much of the workings of the nation's intelligence establishment. ... The team also wanted an optical system that could take wide-angle images, showing large areas on the ground, as well as tightly focused, detailed pictures of small objects. The goal, to use an oversimplified analogy, was a revolutionary zoom lens. "

8 June Update

Donated Space Telescopes are Remnants of Failed NRO Program, Space News

"Among Boeing's subcontractors on the canceled program was a division of Eastman Kodak of Rochester, which for years had built the mirror assemblies for the nation's spy satellites. That division was sold to ITT Exelis in 2004. In an email, ITT Exelis spokeswoman Irene Lockwood confirmed that her company built the hardware. "Since developing and building the two partial telescope assemblies in the late 1990s-early 2000s, ITT Exelis has stored the hardware in one of our Rochester facilities. As the future space missions for the telescopes evolve, ITT Exelis will work with NASA to determine how best they can be used."

NASA's Stubby Hubbles and Fumbled PR

"Moore said that the hardware had been "declassified" so that NASA could use it. So, I asked, since it was "declassified", what the names of these telescopes were and if we could have photos of the hardware. Moore declined to provide the names of the telescopes - or of anything NRO was providing, said that we could not have photos (because things were classified), and that we should go talk to the NRO's public relations office. For starters, telling someone to talk to the NRO public affairs office is like suggesting that I find the nearest brick wall to talk to. What had me a bit baffled was why NASA could not provide photos of declassified hardware - suggesting that it was not really declassified at all. So which is it - declassified or not?"

Keith's note: But wait. This image was posted on MSNBC captioned "A redacted photo shows one of the telescopes transferred from the National Reconnaissance Office to NASA." and the source is "A. Dressler via National Academies". NASA refuses to issue images to the media but they give the same imagery to the NAS and they release it to the media? But NASA can't?

Keith's update: J.D. Harrington at NASA PAO tells me "I'm told that this is an old picture of the Hubble Space Telescope in its ground handling fixture being moved in the clean room during integrated testing and is not related toany classified hardware. It was included by the author of the CAA presentation yesterday to provide some levity to his somewhat dry science discussion." Dressler was on the media telecon yesterday when NASA refused to provide photos. So.... a senior representative of the National Academies of Science (Dressler) is issuing photos that they either claim are authentic and/or know are not authentic - and do so after hearing that NASA cannot/will not release them.

NASA is holding a semi-stealth media telecon - but only for selected media - and I got 13 minutes advanced notice. Alas, NASA claims that they are not holding "media telecons" about the NRO telescopes and they tell this to media during a "media telecon". Goofy.

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy, Washington Post

"The U.S. government's secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens. They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble. They also have an additional feature that the civilian space telescopes lack: A maneuverable secondary mirror that makes it possible to obtain more focused images. These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble, according to David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-chair of the National Academies advisory panel on astronomy and astrophysics."

NASA Astrophysics Urged To Slim Down, Aviation Week

"The SRC strongly urges the HST to consider all possible avenues, vigorously pursuing ways to accelerate cost reductions without compromising mission safety even if some science is not enabled," the panel cautioned the Hubble team in the April 4 report that included the Kepler extension recommendation. "To keep HST operating while maintaining the overall balance of NASA's astrophysics program, it will be necessary to seek further cost reductions, even at the expense of some observing efficiency."

NASA Extends Kepler, Spitzer, Planck Missions

"NASA is extending three missions affiliated with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. -- Kepler, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the U.S. portion of the European Space Agency's Planck mission -- as a result of the 2012 Senior Review of Astrophysics Missions. The 2012 NASA Senior Review report, which includes these three missions and six others also being extended, is available at:"

Space Astronomy Archive and Supernova Are Named for Senator Barbara Mikulski

"One of the world's largest astronomy archives, containing a treasure trove of information about myriad stars, planets, and galaxies, has been named in honor of the United States Senator from Maryland, Barbara Mikulski. ... In addition, an exploding star that the Hubble Space Telescope spotted on Jan. 25, 2012, has been named Supernova Mikulski by Nobel Laureate Adam Riess and the supernova search team with which he is currently working. The supernova, which lies 7.4 billion light-years away, is the titanic detonation of a star more than eight times our Sun's mass."

Keith's note: This has to be one of the most shameless acts of kissing up to a congressional benefactor in recent years. Anything that Sen. Mikuski did in her job involved taxpayer dollars and she often favored projects in her own state at the expense of equally meritorious projects located in other states. I wonder if the STScI folks bothered to tell Sen. Mikulski that they can't actually name stars after anyone. Under the archaic way that astronomers name objects and features, only the IAU can name things. Also, it would seem, according to IAU's rules, that there is no process for naming a supernova after a person i.e. "Supernovae are named for their year of occurrance and an uppercase letter, e.g., "SN 1987A". If the alphabet is exhausted, double lower case naming is used: [Year] aa .. az, ba .. bz, etc; e.g., "SN 1997bs"." And if IAU does allow this name to become official they too become a party to this blatant act of political payback and simply undermine what the credibility that their naming rules have.

NASA Science Chief Statement on Naming of Space Telescope Science Institute's Astronomical Database for Senator Mikulski

"The Space Telescope Science Institute's decision to name its database for Senator Mikulski is an honor very much deserved. She is a tremendous advocate and supporter for science, NASA and the astrophysics community."

Keith's update: (Sigh) now NASA itself has gotten in on the official political pandering as well. Maybe we should name JSC's Mission Control Center the "Kay Bailey Hutchison Mission Control Center" and the VAB the "Bill Nelson Big Rocket Barn". I wonder how many hours were charged at NASA and STScI to concocting and celebrating this whole activity. I guess there is a side benefit to this. The next time JWST goes over budget Sen. Mikulski is certain to support another infusion of cash.

Panel Discussion: U.S. Leadership in Astronomy: Space Telescopes Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

"Featuring: Eric Smith, NASA Headquarters, Dr. John Grunsfeld, Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, Dr. Meg Urry, Yale University, and Pam Whitney, House Committee on Science & Technology (invited)."

House Science, Space & Tech Committee Hearing - Assessing the James Webb Space Telescope

- [Statement] Rick Howard, Program Manager, James Webb Space Telescope, NASA,
- [Statement] Roger Blandford, Professor of Physics, Stanford University,
- [Statement] Garth Illingworth, Professor & Astronomer, UCO/Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz,
- [Statement] Jeffrey D. Grant, Sector Vice President & General Manager, Space Systems Division, Northrup Grumman Aerospace Systems"

Hubble Zooms In on a Space Oddity

"One of the strangest space objects ever seen is being scrutinized by the penetrating vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. A mysterious, glowing, green blob of gas is floating in space near a spiral galaxy. Hubble uncovered delicate filaments of gas and a pocket of young star clusters in the giant object, which is the size of our Milky Way galaxy."

"For the past decades we have been posting the HST Daily Status Reports to this newsgroup for interested readers, and those people who use the HST as part of their daily work both in industry and academia. We have been notified that our usual method for receiving these reports will be terminated on October 8th. We can still get to the information and post it here, but there will be more work involved. As such, we have decided it would be appropriate to determine if there is still a need for the reports to be published here. If you are a regular reader of this newsgroup (sci.astro.hubble) and would like to continue to see the HST Daily Reports published here, please email me back at the email address at the top of this post. Thanks in advance."

Paul Scowen Research Professor, ASU paul.scowen (at)

Please Look at This Image

Breaking Waves in the Stellar Lagoon

"A spectacular new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the heart of the Lagoon Nebula. Seen as a massive cloud of glowing dust and gas, bombarded by the energetic radiation of new stars, this placid name hides a dramatic reality. The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a dramatic view of gas and dust sculpted by intense radiation from hot young stars deep in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8). "

Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 20 Years of Discovery

"As the Hubble Space Telescope achieves the major milestone of two decades on orbit, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, or STScI, in Baltimore are celebrating Hubble's journey of exploration with a stunning new picture and several online educational activities. There are also opportunities for people to explore galaxies as armchair scientists and send personal greetings to Hubble for posterity."

Lockheed Martin-Built Hubble Space Telescope Marks 20 Years of Astronomical Discovery

"NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST), built and integrated at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Sunnyvale, was launched 20 years ago aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, on April 24, 1990, ushering in a new golden age of astronomy. HST was released by the crew into Earth orbit the next day and the universe hasn't looked the same since."

What's next for NASA?, Mario Livio, Baltimore Sun

"In recent days, some of those criticizing NASA's proposed budget have tried to paint a picture of an agency without a vision. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. NASA's far-reaching ambitions in space science have been, and will continue to be, truly inspiring"

Keith's note: While Livio does make a number of cogent points about space science, I find it a little odd that he can make statements about the agency's overall "vision" while making zero mention of human spaceflight. If some members of Congress have their way, NASA will need to find more money somewhere - and that somewhere may well be space science. Perhaps then he'll take the time to look at the other things that NASA does. I am rather certain that Livio was in the audience last night at the Air and Space Museum for the premiere of Hubble IMAX 3D - a movie that was equally balanced between human and robotic spaceflight. I guess he missed all of those space suited astronauts working on the gem of his institute's research - one of whom works down the hall from him at STScI ...

Astronaut John Grunsfeld Appointed Space Telescope Science Institute Deputy Director, NASA

"Dr. John M. Grunsfeld has been appointed Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., effective January 4, 2010. He succeeds Dr. Michael Hauser, who stepped down in October. STScI is the science operations center for NASA's orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope planned to be launched in 2014."

Keith's note: I am deliberately posting this press release - in advance of the embargo claimed by STScI - given that NASA HQ PAO has repeatedly told me - officially - that official agency policy is that no news releases regarding NASA research or news are ever to be issued under media embargo. Moreover, two NASA civil servant PAO officers are listed on this release, John Grunsfeld is a NASA employee, and STScI is wholly funded by NASA.

If NASA PAO is going to claim that a policy regarding embargoes exists, then it needs to enforce that policy. Otherwise their "policy" is hollow and pointless - and also not in the best interest of the taxpayers who pay for this research in the first place. Oh, by the way, I already have several press releases regarding wholly NASA-funded research that are under embargo - in direct contravention to stated agency policy. Again, where is the "transparency"? Where is the "openness"?

As for John's selection itself? Superlative - amazingly so.

Rodger Doxsey

Hubble Project Pioneer Rodger Doxsey Passes Away

"Dr. Rodger Doxsey, head of the Space Telescope Science Institute's (STScI) Hubble Mission Office, passed away on October 13 after a prolonged illness. The New York native was 62 years old. Doxsey oversaw Hubble science operations at STScI in Baltimore, Md., for nearly three decades."

The Shape and Surface Variation of 2 Pallas from the Hubble Space Telescope, Science (subscription required)

"Fig. 1 Deconvolved 336-nm WFPC2 images of Pallas from 8 September 2007. We observed Pallas at an angular size of 0.326 arc sec and a phase of 4.2, resulting in a scale of ~75 km/pixel. Pallas' spin pole (pointing upward) and south pole () are marked, and the corresponding sub-Earth longitude is labeled; north is up and east is right in this panel."

Keith's note: Cool and unprecedented high resolutions images of asteroid 2 Pallas appear in this week's issue of Science - images taken by Hubble way back in 2007. Up until now this world has been just a point of light. Why has NASA not released these images before? Why is there no press release now? Why do people need to go to a for-fee site to see them? How many more is SMD sitting on? It would seem that UCLA and/or Science selectively gave advanced notice of this story and NASA-funded imagery to a hand picked group - but not the rest of the media - or the general public. What does this have to say about the Administration's call for transparency and openness? Not much, it would seem.

A Real Spinoff

Custom Eyeballs Can Tailor Your Eyesight to Your Career, io9

"Need to see a thousand meters in the dark? Want one eye that's perfect for reading and another for long distances? Some eye surgeons are already at work reshaping corneas not only to fix patients' vision, but fit their careers. ... What do we have to thank for this custom technology? The space program. Wavefront technology, which was developed by NASA to improve the focus of the Hubble Space Telescope, has translated neatly to the human eye. The technology allows physicians to map the cornea and iris, enabling surgeons to make small, specific tweaks to the eye that result in custom eyesight made to order."

Wavefront Sensing, NASA IPP

Last Visit To Hubble

The Hubble Constant: High Interest, Miles O'Brien

"I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Hubble Repair Missions. After all, I cut my teeth on the space beat covering the legendary STS-61 mission in December 1993 the first, the most dramatic - and certainly the most important - of the five astronaut telescope calls now inscribed in the space history books.

So I must confess I am a bit wistful even a little misty - now that it is all over."

NASA Sets Briefings to Provide Update About Hubble Shuttle Mission, NASA

"NASA will hold news briefings April 23 to update reporters about the space shuttle's fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA Television and the agency's Web site will provide live coverage of the briefings from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Shuttle Atlantis' 11-day flight, designated STS-125, is targeted for launch May 12 and will include five spacewalks to refurbish and upgrade the telescope with state-of-the-art science instruments. As a result, Hubble's capabilities will be expanded and its operational lifespan extended through at least 2014."

Tell Hubble Where To Point

Hubble's Next Discovery -- You Decide

"Hubble's Next Discovery -- You Decide" is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's observations. People around the world can vote to select the next object the Hubble Space Telescope will view. Choose from a list of objects Hubble has never observed before and enter a drawing for one of 100 new Hubble pictures of the winning object. The winning image will be released between April 2 and 5, during the IYA's 100 Hours of Astronomy, a global astronomy event geared toward encouraging as many people as possible to experience the night sky. Vote by March 1 to swing Hubble toward your favorite target."

NASA Internal Email: STS-125 Launch Date and Pad 39B Mods

"Our current plans remain the baseline..... 125 flies first, and we continue to press for 5/12. November is off the table..... 127 plans for June 13

We keep working pad mods on Pad B to keep the dual pad option open that allows Ares to fly in August

We keep on the track to do the early rollout for OV-104 to turn over HB 3 as soon as possible to ARES
(no impact from this to HST)

March 15th we tag up again to assess the ARES progress, the status of the Pad B Mods and analysis that is OK to launch 400 off Pad B, and to re-look at the single vs Dual Pad risk data per the request from Gerst for some addition cases. The single vs dual decision does not have to be made till the March 15th tagup. We can then decide whether HST flies May 12 (dual Pad) or May 29th (single pad)"

"This year, say it in stars! Send your friends and relatives best wishes for the season with our printable holiday cards. Messages of joy and peace are illuminated by the natural splendor of the universe. The cards are designed to be printed out at photo stores or online photo labs, though you can also use a home printer."

Download cards here

NASA Managers Delay Hubble Servicing Mission

"NASA managers have announced that they will not meet a February 2009 launch date for the fifth and final shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope."

NASA Updates Thursday's Hubble Servicing Mission And Space Shuttle Readiness Review Briefing Time

Telecon notes:

The ground spare to replace a defective unit aboard Hubble will not be ready to support a February 2009 launch so a new launch date is needed. A significant anomaly occurred during testing. Six and a half months of testing is needed before the unit can fly. NASA's plan is to have the spare unit ready to ship in the April 2009 timeframe so as to support a May 2009 launch.

This will also cause an additional delay of Ares 1-X

Hubble Update

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Report #6 October 23, 2008

"The Hubble Space Telescope Science Instrument Control and Data Handling system was reactivated on Thursday, October 23. This should enable Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 science observations to resume on Saturday, October 25. The Advanced Camera for Surveys Solar Blind Channel science observations should resume later next week. The Independent Review Team, chaired by Wallops Flight Facility director John Campbell, and the HST Program reported their assessment to Goddard management yesterday."

Hubble Repair Setback

Hubble Science Operations Deferred While Engineers Examine New Issues

"Activation of Hubble Space Telescope science instruments and resumption of science observations has been suspended following two anomalies seen in systems onboard the telescope yesterday. The investigation is continuing. Contingency procedures for a potential switch to a hybrid SI C&DH configuration that would use portions of its Side A and portions of its Side B were tested this morning in HST Program's Vehicle Electrical System Test (VEST) Facility, a high fidelity mock-up of Hubble that resides in a cleanroom at Goddard."

Hubble Repairs Working Well

Hubble Status Report #2

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Status Update #1

"The Hubble Space Telescope team completed switching the required hardware modules to their B-sides about 9:30 a.m. this morning and received telemetry that verified they had good data. Everything at this point looks good."

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Status Report #4715

"At 284/14:25:46 UTC, the SSM HV Protection capability through the NSSC-1 was successfully restored via Ops Request 18307-0. Executive RTCS 21 was enabled to send notification of an HV Protect event through the setting of the former Mechanism Motion flag, and NSSC-1 Global Event Flag 12 was set to allow this transfer across the PIT to the SSM."

Hubble Update

NASA: Briefing on Hubble Problem Status

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 12:30 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Oct. 14, to brief reporters about the status of efforts to revive the data handling unit that failed on the Hubble Space Telescope in late-September. The failure halted almost all science operations on the orbiting observatory. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:"

Notes: There is very little aging that goes on with an unpowered component in space. It is a very benign storage environment. We have very good confidence that this will work.

The spare unit on the ground was delivered in 1992. Getting everyone back up to speed when the unit was delivered in 1992 is a bit of a challenge. The unit will start testing some time next week - that testing will go on for several months.

This is a Block 1 orbital replacement unit. It is held on by 10 bolts and a single connector. It was made to be one of the easiest things to replace.

We will have a better handle on the status of the hardware in the first week of November.

SpaceX Launch Successful Hubble Repair Mission on Hold (broadcast Friday, October 3rd, 2008), Science Friday

"2:00 pm EDT: Ed Weiler, Associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters"

Hubble Still Dazzles

A Celestial Landscape in Celebration of 10 Years of Stunning Hubble Heritage Images

"The landmark 10th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope's Hubble Heritage Project is being celebrated with a 'landscape' image from the cosmos. Cutting across a nearby star-forming region are the "hills and valleys" of gas and dust displayed in intricate detail. Set amid a backdrop of soft, glowing blue light are wispy tendrils of gas as well as dark trunks of dust that are light-years in height."

Hubble Space Telescope Problem Delays STS-125 Launch

"Due to the significant Hubble Space Telescope malfunction that occurred over the weekend affecting the storage and transmittal of science data to Earth, NASA will evaluate the investigation results before fully determining the impact to launch of the STS-125 servicing mission. Under consideration is the possibility of flying a back-up replacement system as part of the payload, which could be installed during the servicing mission."

Hubble Issues Delay STS-125

NASA to Discuss Hubble Anomaly and Servicing Mission Launch Delay

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 6 p.m. EDT today to discuss a significant Hubble Space Telescope anomaly that occurred this weekend affecting the storage and transmittal of science data to Earth. Fixing the problem will delay next month's space shuttle Atlantis' Hubble servicing mission.

The malfunctioning system is Hubble's Control Unit/Science Data Formatter - Side A. Shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, the telescope's spacecraft computer issued commands to safe the payload computer and science instruments when errors were detected within the Science Data Formatter. An attempt to reset the formatter and obtain a dump of the payload computer's memory was unsuccessful."

Interesting Hubble Discovery

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4691

NICMOS Confirmation of an Extrasolar Panet Candidate Directly Detected with ACS

With ACS/HRC coronagraphy, we have achieved the direct detection of a planet candidate in F606W and F814W around a bright nearby star with a debris belt. The planet candidate lies 18 astronomical units interior to the dust belt and we detect counterclockwise orbital motion in observations separated by 1.75 years. The candidate has mass no greater than three Jupiter masses based on an analysis of its luminosity and the dynamical argument that a significantly more massive object would disrupt the dust belt.

Hubble Space Telescope Unveils Colorful and Turbulent Star-Birth Region on 100,000th Orbit Milestone

"In commemoration of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope completing its 100,000th orbit in its 18th year of exploration and discovery, scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., have aimed Hubble to take a snapshot of a dazzling region of celestial birth and renewal. Hubble peered into a small portion of the nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074 (upper, left). The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away near the Tarantula nebula, one of the most active star-forming regions in our Local Group of galaxies."

One Last Trip to Open Hubble's Eyes Even Wider, Washington Post

"By the end of the year, the world's greatest telescope should be able to see deeper into space and further back in time than ever. If all goes as planned, it will be able to detect events closer to the big bang, explore the "cosmic web" of galaxies and intergalactic gas that make up the large-scale structure of the universe, and reveal much more about how and when distant stars and planets were formed.... It is hard to overstate the importance of the Hubble and its insights into the evolution of the universe, the presence of mysterious dark matter and dark energy, and the existence of hundreds (and probably many more) of planets orbiting distant stars."

HSM4 Intro, John Frassanito & Associates

Link below.

First Ares test launch likely delayed by pad conflict, SpaceflightNow

"Delays in the space shuttle program could force a one-month slip of an early test flight of NASA's next-generation rocket next year due to busy Kennedy Space Center launch facilities, agency officials said Thursday."

Shuttle's Hubble mission incurs 5-week delay, Orlando Sentinel

"The launch scheduled later this summer to service the Hubble Space Telescope will be pushed back four to five weeks because of delays in manufacturing the space shuttle's redesigned external fuel tank, a NASA official said Thursday. The delay in the tank-production schedule also is likely to affect the first test flight of a new rocket that is similar to one intended to take astronauts back to the moon."

Hubble Update Today

Hubble Detects Organic Molecule on an Extrasolar Planet

"NASA will hold a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 19, to report on the first-ever detection of the organic molecule methane in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a distant star. Though the planet is too hot to support life as we know it, the finding demonstrates the ability to detect organic molecules spectroscopically around Earth-like planets in habitable zones around stars."

Editor's note: I am sorry that I did not post this earlier. Despite repeated requests NASA PAO seems to be incapable of putting me on a simple email list so as to allow me to get these media updates as they are issued. Of course, I complain, and PAO says that I am on the list - yet I seem to miss out on a fair number of things. Curiously, no one else on Earth seems to have a problem getting email to - or from - me. Sometimes I get things at 4 or 5 in the afternoon that have been sent to a distribution list at 10 in the morning.

One Last Ride to the Hubble, NY Times

"Next August, after 20 years of hype, disappointment, blunders, triumphs and peerless glittering vistas of space and time, and four years after NASA decided to leave the Hubble Space Telescope to die in orbit, setting off public and Congressional outrage, a group of astronauts will ride to the telescope aboard the space shuttle Atlantis with wrenches in hand. That, at least, is the plan."

Minor Hubble Glitch

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 4470


Gyro 2's second flex lead failed on DOY (278) 10/05/07. An increase in the gyro's heater duty cycle from 10-12% to 26-38% revealed that additional heater power was compensating for the absence of motor current.

The second flex lead failure was expected. The first flex lead failed on August 31, 2007, after which Gyro 6 was turned on. The second flex lead's failure did not impact HST's operation."

Hubble Trouble

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4439

FLASH REPORT: Zero Gyro Software Sunpoint entry

At 243/23:01:54 UTC Gyro 2 disparity counts exceeded limits during an LOS period and HST entered Zero Gyro Software Sun Point. The vehicle was in M2G mode in orbit night with a vehicle slew in progress when this occurred. Gyro 2's motor current and digital data were zero after telemetry was reestablished.

On Saturday, September 1st at 9am EST a Zero Gyro Entry (Gyro 2 failure) Status Briefing was held with the Mission Operations Team, Science Institute and HST Project. Status of each subsystem was provided. PCS confirmed Gyro 2 failure and that Gyro 6 was powered on at 244/0554 GMT. Other subsystems are performing nominally and as expected. TCS did change yellow limits on the OTA Baffle temperature to the SM limits (w/AD closed). EPS reported a change in the structure current profile following the anomaly. An Ops Note was issued to increase structure current ground limits by 0.4 amps (5.4 to 5.8A). There was an increase of up to 1.5 amps in the structure current profile which EPS is monitoring.

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4440

HSTARS: 10983 Loss of Lock - Without Acquisition Failure @ 247/2041z GSAcq (1,2,1) at 247/19:45z was successful. At 247/20:13:57z began flagging in and out of Gyro Control (RGA Only / FGS/RGA). Additionally, Mnemonics FSUBLOL, FGSLOL, FGS_STAT began flagging in and out indicating a possible Loss of Lock. At 247/20:41:56z TERM EXP as scheduled. During this time FGS's maintained SCI INIT / LATCH on acquisition.

Editor's note: Have a look at "The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken". This video was made by Tony Darnell who runs I like it - a lot. In addition to using NASA images to make some important cosmological points, he also makes a few other points - such as our YouTube posting and viewing habits. Thanks to who alerted me to this video and who noted "... continuing along your lines about NASA's PAO, or lack thereof, why didn't we do this???"

Good News For Hubble ACS?

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4303

"SIGNIFICANT EVENTS: Flash Report: SBC - preliminary results - The first SBC images (science and calibration) were acquired today (Day 051). All the telemetry indicates normal conditions. The first internal flats and dark frames are consistent with those pre-dating the ACS Side 2 failure. There may be a small degradation in sensitivity (on the order of 1% or less at the shortest wavelengths). More sensitivity data will be acquired in the coming week."

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4302


Flash Report: As of 047/16:22:43 ACS is configured to its Safe mode on Side 1, and the on-board SMAC20 has been updated to the new version M to support ACS Side 1 SBC-only operations. Flash Report: As of 048/00:28:33. ACS CS FSW 4.02A has been successfully loaded, validated, and activated in the transition to the Operate state. ACS is configured to intercept the 050 SMS and resume SBC science activities. Flash Report: Results of the ACS SBC Filter Wheel Test ACS completed the SBC filter wheel test. Flash Report: The SI SEs at GSFC have been notified that ACS Flag 2 can be cleared for normal SBC operations."

Shooting for the Stars With the Webb Telescope, Washington Post

"Last week's news that the orbiting Hubble observatory's most productive and far-seeing camera may be irreparably damaged sent a chill through the world of astronomy. Even if astronauts return to the Hubble next year as planned to repair and replace several instruments, fixing the electrical malfunction in the Advanced Camera for Surveys is not expected to be on the schedule."

Hubble News and Status Reports, SpaceRef

Hubble News, earlier NASA WAtch postings

Engineers Investigate Issue on One of Hubble's Science Instruments

"NASA engineers are examining a problem related to the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the agency's Hubble Space Telescope. investigation indicates the camera has stopped functioning, and the input power feed to its Side B electronics package has failed."

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4287

"HST entered Inertial Hold Safemode on 2007/027/12:34:38 GMT (Sat, 01/27/97) following a Total Pressure Sensor (TPS) limit violation. Autonomous safing actions included powering off the FHSTs and the FGS High Voltage and terminating High Gain Antennae (HGA) tracking. Data review following the safemode entry revealed: "Structure Current Safing Test limit was exceeded ~10sec prior to safemode entry, but HST structure current returned within limits before the test could fail." ACS safed due to loss of power."

NASA Internal Memo: Hubble Space Telescope SM4 Mission Scheduled for 11 September 2008

"We have been informed by the JSC SM4 Mission Director that the space shuttle Flight Assignment Working Group (FAWG) has assigned the HST SM4 mission a launch readiness date of September 11, 2008 on space shuttle Atlantis (OV-104). This flight is designated STS-125. Please see the attachment for the latest FAWG manifest."

Download complete 2 January 2007 FAWG manifest

NASA Schedules Flight to Update Space Telescope, NY Times

"The Hubble Space Telescope has a new, resonant date with destiny. NASA has set Sept. 11, 2008, as the target date for launching a mission intended to revitalize the telescope and keep it spaceworthy into the next decade, according to a planning document made public by, an independent Web site."

Editor's note: That's what Scott Horowitz' and Mike Griffin's pal Bob Zubrin wants you to think - note this excerpt from an official Mars Society email wherein Zubrin crows about his victory:

"The decision to save Hubble is a great victory for science, civilization, and the Mars Society. Alone among space advocacy groups, the Mars Society responded the former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe's stupid and cowardly decision ... The Mars Society campaign provoked a hysterical response from O'Keefe's pet sycophant at nasawatch, but was welcomed by many NASA employees, who helped the campaign by leaking information showing that O'Keefe was lying. As a result of the debacle that followed, the Philistine bureaucrat was essentially forced from office, clearing the way for the appointment of a NASA Administrator actually committed to science and the human expansion into space."

Feel better now, Bob? One has to assume that your steering committee agrees with your armwaving, name calling, and sheer fabrication.

Oh yes, Zubrin also uses lines like "technically illiterate oaf", "sissified NASA", and "fraudulent" and suggests that O'Keefe was "essentially forced from office". What a wonderful way for a leader (as Zubrin professes to be) to represent his organization. Once again Bob, its time for you to sit down and shut up.

The text of Zubrin's official Mars Society newsletter follows:

Editor's note: According to Mike Griffin, speaking at the 31 October HST SM announcement: "I was the one who took the deorbit module off of this mission because I thought it was idiotic."

Earlier post: NASA Program management Council Meeting Minutes and Actions Date: July 28,2005: Second Item of Business: Hubble Space Telescope (HST) - Decay Profile and Propulsion De-Orbit Module (PDM) Use

NASA Approves Mission and Names Crew for Return to Hubble

"Shuttle astronauts will make one final house call to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope as part of a mission to extend and improve the observatory's capabilities through 2013."

NASA Press Conference - Shuttle Return to Hubble - Transcript

Hubble Update

Editor's 28 October Update: Multiple sources note that few - if any - expect that the decision will be anything but an overt approval of the Hubble servicing mission. Indeed, many at NASA have been acting as if it were a done deal for quite some time - and some have said that it is indeed settled - some claim to have been told so. Many activities wherein real money is being spent on this mission have continued as if the flight was going to happen. Besides, look at the elaborate PAO activities planned in this press release "if" the mission is approved. PAO doesn't do that much work ahead of time unless it has to.

The main issue with this mission has always been the ability to go get a stranded Shuttle crew if the need arose. When Sean O'Keefe faced a decision point, that solution was simply not there - at least not to his satisfaction. That issue has now been solved. Mike Griffin now needs to spend the weekend thinking how he will explain - and defend - his formal decision to the media on Tuesday. Truth be known, as far as Griffin was concerned, this was not a slam dunk for quite some time. NASA had a lot of things to prove to him.

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4220, STSCI

"Flash Report: ACS HRC Biases and Darks look good - Everything looks nominal. The frames are clean. The CCD appears to have annealed well, and the C-amplifier readnoise is at the expected (historical) level. The bias levels in these first images are just a bit above the historical averages (a few % high), but this is expected for biases obtained soon after the HRC is configured for science operations. We expect the bias levels to drop to the nominal values within a few hours, and this return to the historical average should be evident in the next set obtained on Wednesday. Looks like we have another terrific ACS camera back on line and operating well."

Hubble ACS Fixed

Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Status Report #2

"Early on October 9 engineers sent commands to Hubble Space Telescope to toggle the suspect relay. Telemetry confirmed that the relay cycled open and closed as expected. Engineers determined this action succeeded in restoring the HRC at 5:40 am on October 9 during the first opportunity to restore power to the +35V bias line. Since this test was fully successful, further workarounds will not be required. NASA engineers believe the cause of the open circuit was a tiny particle of dust or fabric physically interfering with the electrical contact."

Hubble Update

Hubble's key camera shuts down again, New Scientist

"The Hubble Space Telescope's most frequently used instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), has shut down unexpectedly. Hubble's managers are still investigating the problem, but they are optimistic that they will be able to use the camera again soon."

  • NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4208
  • NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4207
  • NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4206
  • Earlier Hubble reports and news
  • A Little Hubble Trouble

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4205

    "The ACS suspended at 266/15:21:25 GMT. ... A detailed analysis of the event is underway with a tiger team meeting at 1pm Sunday. A follow-up status meeting is planned with HSTP for 9am Monday in. Actions from the tiger team meeting: -Investigate whether ASPC-2 relay status are analog, if analog assess the raw data for shifts that indicate whether or not all the relays switched."

    Hubble Hardware Damaged

    New Hubble Space Telescope Hardware Damaged On The Ground, SpaceRef

    "According to NASA sources, last Thursday, an eye bolt supporting a lifting rig failed while off-loading the Wide-field Scientific Instrument Protective Enclosure (WSIPE) dropping the rig onto the WSIPE."

    Safe Return for the Shuttle, editorial, NY Times

    "Discovery's seemingly unblemished flight raises some hope that a shuttle mission to rejuvenate the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's most important scientific instrument, may prove feasible. Such a mission would be somewhat more risky than a trip to the space station because the astronauts would not have a place to take refuge were the shuttle orbiter to be damaged. But the scientific payoff, in our view, would be far greater than any likely research benefits from the space station."

    Hubble Update

    NASA HST Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Status Update

    "On Thursday afternoon, June 29, the HST's senior managers attended the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) of the activities required to install flight software into, and transition the ACS to its Side 2 (redundant) electronics. The review was also attended by Dr. Jennifer Wiseman (NASA HQ) and the ST ScI Director, Dr. Matt Mountain."

    Hubble Update

    NASA Issues Hubble Space Telescope Status Report

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope: Update on Suspension of ACS Operations, STSCI

    "At this point, the ACS is in a safe configuration, and analysis of engineering data at the time of the suspension is ongoing. Initial indications are that there is a problem with one set of electronics used to provide power to the CCDs. A review board is meeting June 29 to determine the best course of action."

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4141

    "ACS Transition to Operate1 - Ops Request 17802-0 was completed at 173/21:11:12, successfully transitioning ACS from Suspend to its Operate1 state. In this state, ACS normal engineering data collection can be observed."

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys Suspends Operations, STSCI

    "On Monday, 19 June 2006, at 1:15 pm EDT (17:15 UT), the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) issued status buffer messages indicating that the +15V and +5V power supply voltages in the CCD Electronics Box (CEB) were above their high limits, causing the ACS to suspend. This event occurred in a period with no ACS commanding and outside the SAA. A dump of the relevant data showed that a total of 36 CEB items exceeded limits at the time of the event."

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4134

    "DOY 164/2006 Zero-Gyro Sunpoint (ZGSP) Safemode Flash Report - At GMT 164/20:35:26 the vehicle entered ZGSP Safemode due to the failure of the Magnetic Field Position safemode test. The initial investigation shows no signs of hardware issues. ... The recovery of HST from the Zero Gyro Sun Point safemode entry is proceeding nominally."

    Hubble Enters Safe Mode

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4093

    "HST SAFEMODE: HST entered inertial hold on day 107:03:10:00.5 after failing a bright earth/moon avoidance test. All SIs are up in operate mode with no out-of-limit conditions."

    Another Hubble Stunner

    Photo release: Largest ever galaxy portrait - stunning HD image of Pinwheel Galaxy

    "This new Hubble image reveals the gigantic Pinwheel galaxy, one of the best known examples of "grand design spirals", and its supergiant star-forming regions in unprecedented detail. The image is the largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy ever released."

    Hubble Trouble

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4028

    "WFPC2 WF4 Supplemental Darks - A anomaly has been found in images from the WF4 CCD in WFPC2. The WF4 CCD bias level appears to have become unstable, resulting in sporadic images with either low or zero bias level. The severity and frequency of the problem is rapidly increasing, and it is possible that WF4 will soon become unusable if no work-around is found. The other three CCDs {PC1, WF2, and WF3} appear to be unaffected and continue to operate properly. These darks are to supplement those in program 10748 to ensure sufficient dark frames for routine calibration. As the WF4 anomaly grows worse, we are beginning to see episodes where too many darks are corrupted and are unusable."

    Editor's note:In the 18 July edition of Space News, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director (and former Associate Administrator for Space Science) Ed Weiler says that he did not agree with the way that former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe handled the Hubble Space Telescope issue.

    Curiously, Weiler took a totally different stance in late 2003 as O'Keefe was preparing to make his decision about not sending the SM-4 Shuttle Servicing mission to repair and reboost Hubble. Indeed, Weiler was outright supportive of what O'Keefe was thinking of announcing a few months hence - and he put it in writing.

    Editor's note: There will be a Hubble Space Telescope meeting at NASA HQ next week. Among the items to be discussed is a new solar activity model which some people at NASA think will allow the Hubble to remain safely aloft for quite some time after a reboost from the visiting shuttle.

    This way, so the thinking goes, the hope is that a deorbit module i.e. the PDM (Propulsion Deorbit Module) will not need to be included on the SM-4 mission. Apparently, a few weeks ago, when Mike Griffin was briefed on Hubble, an estimated deorbit some time in 2030 was mentioned. According to a participant Griffin said something to the effect of "why are we worrying about it then?".

    Deleting the PDM solve some vexing upmass issues. It would also save NASA a large amount of money. Not only would the PDM not need to be developed, but money would not be needed to modify the FSS (the payload carrier that holds Hubble in Shuttle's cargo bay) to accomodate the PDM.

    Of course, the issue of bringing Hubble back will have to be addressed someday - but at least it won't have to be dealt with during Mike Griffin's time as Administrator.

    Rep. Ken Calvert Calls for New Rules and Tools for the Second Space Age

    "The Hubble Space Telescope program has been a fantastic program that has delivered images beyond our wildest dreams! It is performing beyond its original design life. NASA already has plans for a next generation telescope - the James Webb Telescope. Although we will have a gap of coverage, Hubble has delivered volumes of data that will keep scientists busy for years to come. NASA is planning the development of a de-orbit module, which I think is a wise way to proceed."

    Hubble Problem Solved

    SLOOH.COM Buys Hubble Space Telescope

    "Effective today, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has transferred ownership of the Hubble Space Telescope to the small internet firm"

    Hoyer Urges Hubble Fix

    Lawmaker Urges NASA on Hubble Mission, AP

    "This is a very important mission for us to continue and complete," [Hoyer] said during a tour of the Hubble lab, which holds the robotic arm that could be used to fix the telescope. But Al Diaz, NASA's Associate Administrator for Science who was on the same tour, said the agency has no plans to send a mission, manned or robotic, to repair Hubble. "We don't intend on servicing it, that's where we are," Diaz said."

    First Hubble, then Mars, opinion, Baltimore Sun

    "Fixing Hubble would mean shuttling people to the telescope one last time, as has been done four times previously. While it's understandable that space officials are skittish after the Challenger disaster..."

    Editor's note: I don't think the Challenger accident had too much of an effect on the SM-4 mission decision process.

    Wrangle over Hubble's future could grow, New Scientist

    "NASA has begun a week-long meeting to discuss the possibility of using robots to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope. But agency officials say the meeting will focus mainly on ways to simply de-orbit Hubble by guiding it into the atmosphere, crashing it safely into the ocean."

    Letter from Sen. Mikulski to Acting NASA Administrator Fred Gregory regarding Hubble servicing mission work

    "The funding that I included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act is to ensure that the workforce at Goddard, the Space Telescope Science Institute and their associated contractors remain fully engaged in all aspects of a servicing mission. Any attempt to cancel, terminate or suspend servicing activity would be a violation of the law unless it has the approval of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees."

    Nominee Wins Quick Praise for His Technical Expertise, Science

    "A test of that position will come soon enough, given O'Keefe's decision not to send the shuttle again to service the telescope. The same day that the White House announced Griffin's nomination, the National Academies released its final report on Hubble calling for a shuttle flight to upgrade the instruments."

    Bush's nominee to be NASA administrator faces the challenge of exploring space in an era of tax cuts and runaway deficits, Houston Chronicle

    "Griffin, almost certain to be confirmed by the Senate, has an important advantage over his predecessor, Sean O'Keefe. Griffin knows how to explore space. Even if Congress cuts NASA's budget, Griffin would be able to reverse O'Keefe's decision to let the Hubble Space Telescope deteriorate rather than undergo any risk to space shuttle astronauts."

    Editor's note: This would of course, be very interesting to watch since Mike Griffin will work for the very same White House which endorsed Sean O'Keefe's decisions regarding Hubble - and adjusted the agency's budget profiles accordingly - two fiscal years in a row. Such a reversal would be a change in Bush Administration policy - and we don't really see a lot of that, now do we?

    Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report, NAS

    "This situation resulted in an unprecedented outcry from scientists and the public. As a result, NASA began to explore and develop a robotic servicing mission;Congress directed NASA to request a study from the National Research Council (NRC) of the robotic and shuttle servicing options for extending the life of Hubble. This report presents an assessment of those two options."

    AAS Calls Servicing Hubble Important for Astronomy, Urges NASA to Stick with the Decade Plan

    "In releasing the statement, President Robert Kirshner stated, "I am personally very disappointed with NASA's current plan not to service HST. You can be sure we will work with them to help realize the goals of astronomers as carefully worked out through our decade plan. We know that NASA is committed to doing the world's best astronomy and servicing Hubble with the Shuttle is part of the best program."

    Letter from Sen. Mikulski to Acting NASA Administrator Fred Gregory regarding Hubble servicing mission work

    "The funding that I included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act is to ensure that the workforce at Goddard, the Space Telescope Science Institute and their associated contractors remain fully engaged in all aspects of a servicing mission. Any attempt to cancel, terminate or suspend servicing activity would be a violation of the law unless it has the approval of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees."

    Hubble Two Gyro Test Underway

    NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report # 3803

    "ACS & WFPC2 Two-gyro PSF, pointing and dither test: 12 orbits High priority observations {5 orbits} will be observed together at start of two- gyro SMS. Remaining 7 orbits provide further tests and additional experience in two-gyro mode. Goals: PSF, PSF repeatability, pointing and stability within the orbit {requirements 1a, 1c, 2 , 4}"

    Gyro sacrifice may extend Hubble's life, New Scientist

    "Engineers are testing whether the Hubble Space Telescope should clip its own wings in an attempt to survive as long as possible without a servicing mission. Preliminary results suggest the new, scaled-down operating mode will buy the telescope an extra year of life - possibly until the end of 2008 - without sacrificing too much science."

    Blunt Talk About Hubble

    Fade to black, Op Ed, Cooky Oberg, USA Today

    "The cavalier and dismissive way NASA has handled the Hubble repair mission issue is a symptom of how poorly the White House and NASA teams have led the space effort in recent years, and how insincere their commitment to science and space exploration really is."

    INCOMING !!!

    Bush Orders Army to Shoot Down NASAs Hubble Telescope. "Hooah!", The Spoof

    "FORT SILL, OK (STARS & STRIPES) Within moments of the Bush Administration's failure to fund repairs to the NASA Hubble Space Telescope, an order was given to the US Army 30th Field Artillery Regiment to shoot down the aging telescope from its orbit around the earth."

    Hubble Decision a Blow To Goddard Engineers, Washington Post

    "The decision to deny Goddard Space Flight Center engineers a chance to roll out their plan prompted incredulity even among those most skeptical about the feasibility of robotic servicing. It also promises to reignite debate over the fate of the telescope, an international icon for most of the 15 years it has been aloft."

    Son of Hubble

    Astronomers Urge Congress to Continue Hubble Science - Johns Hopkins-led team presents new option

    "The world faces a dilemma: how to keep the flow of science and discovery from the ailing Hubble Space Telescope alive. According to an international team led by Johns Hopkins University astronomers, the best answer may lie not in a robot-led or manned repair mission, but through the launch of a brand new, free-flying telescope called the "Hubble Origins Probe."

    Hubble Hearing

    Hubble Trouble (Again)

    NASA Budget Cuts Plan to Service Hubble, Sources Say, Washington Post

    "The sources, who declined to be identified because the budget will not be officially rolled out until Feb. 7, could not confirm a report by, an online news service, that the budget would include money to develop a robotic vehicle to steer the telescope into the sea when its batteries or gyros give out, probably sometime after 2007."

    Lanzerotti to testify on Hubble scope's future, Observer Tribune

    "Louis J. Lanzerotti is expected to testify before Congress next month about why the Hubble Space Telescope needs federal money to replace some of its monitoring equipment."

    U.S. to cut funds to fix Hubble telescope, Reuters

    "Steve Beckwith, head of the Space Telescope Science Institute that manages Hubble, said he was surprised by the reports, and questioned the relative risk of sending astronauts to the orbiting telescope. Beckwith said the National Academy of Sciences report found an astronaut mission to fix Hubble would be no riskier than a shuttle mission to the International Space Station."

    Senator Vows to Fight for Hubble, SKy & Telescope

    "Hubble project scientist David Leckrone (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) was surprised by the latest attack on Hubble but not ready to concede defeat. "Rumors like this sometimes are just trial balloons," said Leckrone. "This agency has found the way to pay for four prior servicing missions to HST. It can do it again."

    American Astronomical Society Endorses NRC Report on "The Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of Hubble Space Telescope"

    "The American Astronomical Society (AAS) endorses the work of this distinguished committee and its conclusion that the lowest risk HST servicing mission is a manned servicing mission as originally envisioned for SM-4."

    30 December 2004: IEEE-USA Urges 'Safe Servicing' of Hubble Space Telescope for Humankind

    "NASA should continue planning and preparing for the [space shuttle] SM-4 [servicing] mission, while expert panels and the National Academy of Science develop their reports and the [servicing] issue is thoroughly reviewed." IEEE- USA stressed that it "supports exploring all possible avenues to prolong the useful life of the telescope for the benefit of science and humanity."

    17 December 2004: GAO Report: Space Shuttle - Costs for Hubble Servicing Mission and Implementation of Safety Recommendations Not Yet Definitive

    "Although a shuttle servicing mission is one of the options for servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, to date, NASA does not have a definitive estimate of the potential cost. At our request, NASA prepared an estimate of the funding needed for a shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble. NASA estimates the cost at between $1.7 billion to $2.4 billion. However, documentary support for portions of the estimate is insufficient."

    Dazed and Confused in Houston

    12 December 2004: Amid the house cleaning, NASA needs a sweep-out, OpEd, Cragg Hines, Houston Chronicle

    "Why all the balletic avoidance of a central implication in the independent study on how to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope? Hasn't NASA chief Sean O'Keefe been so wrong and so duplicitous in his attempt to kill the gloriously successful project that he should quit in embarrassment or be fired?"

    Editor's note:Let's see, Cragg: a NASA Administrator errs on the side of safety - and does so in response to a report chronicling the mistakes that led up to the loss of 7 astronauts - most of which had to do with lack of attention to safety - and now you think he should be fired? Calling for him to step down over the Hubble decision is not only unsubstantiated, it is just plain goofy.

    8 December 2004: Space Shuttle Should Conduct Final Servicing Mission To Hubble Space Telescope, NAS

    "To ensure continuation of the extraordinary scientific output of the Hubble Space Telescope and to prepare for its eventual de-orbiting, NASA should send a space shuttle mission, not a robotic one, says a new congressionally requested report from the National Academies' National Research Council."

    8 December 2004: House Science Committee Chairman Boehlert Response to National Acadmey Study on Hubble Servicing Mission

    8 December 2004: Press Statement: Gordon Reaction to Academy Hubble Report

    Editor's note: it is curious that this press release identifies Gordon as being "D-TX"...

    6 December 2004: National Academies Advisory: Dec. 8 News Conference on Hubble Space Telescope

    "ASSESSMENT OF OPTIONS FOR EXTENDING THE LIFE OF THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council, assesses the viability of proposed shuttle or robotic missions to upgrade the telescope. The report will be released at a one-hour news conference."

    6 December 2004: Report Discourages NASA Plan to Save Hubble, NPR

    "A confidential report commissioned by NASA has concluded that the space agency's plan to use a robot to save the Hubble telescope is highly risky. The robot would install two new instruments and replace batteries and gyroscopes."

    Executive Summary, Aerospace Corp (Via NPR)

    6 December 2004: Robotic fix for Hubble challenged, MSNBC

    "According to an executive summary obtained by, the report concludes that robotic missions are too challenging given the time remaining until the telescope's systems begin failing. A public affairs official at Aerospace Corporation declined to comment on the details of the report, noting that it was up to NASA whether the report was publicly released."

    Hubble Costs Escalate

    27 November 2004: Expense may sink Hubble mission, Florida Today

    "NASA's plan to launch a remote-controlled, two-armed android to repair the Hubble Space Telescope may cost almost as much as taxpayers paid to build the vaunted observatory in the first place. The estimated price tag of a robotic rescue mission -- between $1 billion and $2 billion -- is raising eyebrows and questions about whether Hubble is worth the investment amid tight budgets and periodic reports of technical woes that could cripple the spacecraft before the robot gets there."

    6 October 2004: NASA Award Notice: Hubble Robotic Vehicle Deorbit Module (HRVDM)

    "Contract Award Date: Sep 24, 2004 Contract Award Amount: $330,578,914"

    5 October 2004: MDA Receives Authorization From NASA To Begin Work On Hubble Rescue

    5 October 2004: NASA Awards Contracts for Rescue of Hubble, Washington Post

    Earlier Hubble Entries

    3 July 2004: Hubble is not being held hostage, Sean O'Keefe, Toledo Blade

    "The Blade accurately captured NASA's intent to "Keep Hubble alive" in its June 30 editorial, but that's about all it got right. The Hubble shuttle servicing mission was put on hold because it is doubtful we could mount such a shuttle mission that adheres to the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. There are several technical requirements for such a mission that may not be complete and tested prior to the Hubble telescope going dark."

    NAS Reports on Hubble

    14 July 2004: Hubble repair options 'open', Houston Chronicle

    14 July 2004: Astronauts could save Hubble, says panel, New Scientist

    14 July 2004: Keep Hubble Repair Options Open - Experts, Reuters

    13 July 2004: Report to NASA by the NAS Committee on the Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope

    Editor's rant: Editor's note: I have been ordered by a rather obnoxious press officer at the National Academy of Sciences to remove this document from our servers. They claim that they retain copyright to it - even though it is a deliverable to the United States Congress and to NASA - and an official, public letter sent to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Since they are asserting that they retain copyright to this document and I will remove it. However, the fact that all of their efforts - including this one - are paid for with tax dollars seems to be lost on them. NASA buys their services.

    Moreover, and I have official NAS email to document this, I have, for years, been sent materials by NAS employees with the specific request that I post them so as to increase their distribution. Yesterday, I spoke with their press office and told them that I was going to post the report and they had no problem with that. Now, 24 hours later, they have suddenly changed their mind. The NAS needs to get their act together and send a memo out to their employees and establish a policy once and for all. In so doing they need to get off their throne and keep in mind who pays all of their bills - and who they work for.

    "Based on its current assessment of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report and the Stafford-Covey reports (latest dated May 19, 2004), the committee concludes that a shuttle flight to the HST is not precluded by or inconsistent with the recommendations from these two NASA advisory groups."

    "RECOMMENDATION. The committee urges that NASA commit to a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope that accomplishes the objectives of the originally planned SM-4 mission, including both the replacement of the present instruments with the two instruments already developed for flight-the Wide Field Camera-3 and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph- and the engineering objectives, such as gyroscope and battery replacements. Such a servicing mission would extend the life of this unique telescope and maximize its productivity."

    "RECOMMENDATION. At the same time that NASA is vigorously pursuing development of robotic servicing capabilities, and until the agency has completed a more comprehensive examination of the engineering and technology issues, including risk assessments related to both robotic and human servicing options, NASA should take no actions that would preclude a space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope."

    Editor's note: The NAS did exactly what Hal Gehman did: they punted. No firm opinion 'yes' or 'no' with regard to a human or robotic mission to Hubble. AS such, the value of this report is dubious at best since it simply resets the entire discussion back to where it was when the report was first called for - and throws the issue back into NASA's lap.

    Hal Gehman said "do the best you can". Now the NAS says "keep your options open".

    13 July 2004: House Science Committee Democrats React to National Academies' Report on Hubble Space Telescope

    13 July 2004: House Science Committee Boehlert Praises Academy Report

    13 July 2004: NASA Administrator Supports Efforts of the National Academies on Behalf of Hubble Space Telescope

    12 July 2004: NAS Hubble Servicing Report Release imminent

    Editor's note: Word has it that the NAS will release its report on NASA's cancellation of the SM4 Hubble Servicing mission on Wednesday. Congress should have the report on Tuesday.

    Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope, NAS SSB

    Your comments thus far:

    It'd be crazy to let Hubble die and spend a fortune on sending a Man to Marsinstead. Hubble fulfills NASA's prime mission, while Mars fulfills Bush'sprimary mission, i.e. getting reelected. And if we can't afford to get acouple mechanics up in orbit, which is something we've been doing for 40years, how (or why) do we get the same guys to Mars? Given recentdevelopments, NASA should (absolutely) consider bidding out Hubble serviceneeds to other govts. and/or the private sector or any combination of same.This is especially stupid as we're just beginning to 'see the light' at theabsolute beginning (or end) of the tunnel, or donut, or ellipse or, heck wewon't know.....

    As an outsider I can only think that NASA is an organization in the same basic condition it always was.

    There is one re-occurring theme and that is top down management that stifles input from the rest of the organization. The Challanger blew up despite warnings because management did not want to blemish a launch schedule. The Columbia also came down because good engineering questions again fell prey to internal political pressure. It wasn't a lack of concern for safety that brought down these two Shuttles.

    The fix is not to go to extremes for safety (while really just focusing on the schedule for the ISS and Mars.) Another top down decree of safety procedures will leave the underlying cause which is a lack of listening to worthwhile communication.


    Keith Cowling at his "NASA Watch" web page is firing away at Walt Cunningham (Apollo-7 Astronaut and his bio is here: ) about Cunningham's editorial in today's Houston Chronicle on NASA's Sean O'Keefe's decision not to fly the last repair mission to the Hubble Telescope. See below.

    I normally leave this kind of debate to the direct participants, but this whole business of America becoming so risk-adverse that any risk of injury or death sends people into a tall-spin is really getting to me. From Mr. Cunningham's web page, he appears to be the classical overachiever that NASA used to be proud of, but now apparently considers too Rambo-esque. And yes Mr. Cunningham, apparently Mr. Cowling does seem to think that the "Right Stuff" has gone out of style in America and that you are an anachronism. This attitude is implicit in the over-the-top safety culture that is now taking hold at all the NASA field centers and at NASA's contractors as well. But thank God we aren't doing that YET in the US military, where some people are going to die in any mission by definition, be it a large training mission or in real combat, because folks, fighting ones enemies is a TOUGH and DIRTY business as our fighting men and woman of any generation will attest to.

    If you are to succeed in any venture, one has to make the best preparations one can to minimize risks WITH the available resources, but then you have to push the go button and get the mission done, and if you get a few cuts and abrasions, or even deaths along the way, so be it. That's what I believe Mr. Cunningham is using as a touch-stone in his Hubble repair mission judgment call, and it's something that seems to be lost on some in Washington. Yet even in the military we are fast going to the risk-adverse approach to management by going to remote fighting vehicles where there is little or no chance of our soldiers getting in harms way. But what happens when the machines are broke, the will to use them is gone, and the barbarians are at our gates? I suggest that you look at the fate of the Roman Empire or Europe in 1938 to get your answer.

    Sadly, with our ever increasing Politically Correct and Risk Adverse society, brought to you by the 1960s Hippy Flower power movement, trial lawyers, and the ruling wieners in our society that's what we have to expect from now on in American and our Federal Space Program. It's enough to make one want to puke, but it also points out that Sean O'Keefe is just making sure another accident doesn't happen on his watch with his Hubble decision, which is just another demonstration of the CYA bureaucratic-shuffle.. Any bets on whether the Space Shuttle will ever fly again, or this new Presidential "space vision" is just an election year con-job? Any bets that the American Space program is already dead and its various parts just haven't figured it out yet?

    If we aren't willing to take some well thought out and well defined risks in any of our space endeavors as noted by Mr. Cunningham, we sure aren't going to send anyone back to the Moon or go on to Mars where there is a non-zero probability of loss of some crew members or even the entire mission, especially with the low-rent approach that the current President is taking with it. But that very fact is probably how we as a society currently rate the importance of our space exploration program. It's nice to have, but it's not important enough to our collective selves to spill blood over it at ANY level.

    So how far do we take this new safety culture of ours? How much responsibility does the individual have for keeping their fingers out of the fires of life and how much should his or her keepers have? I vote that it has already gone way too far to the keepers, AKA the NANNY STATE Government.

    I don't understand your antagonistic attitude towards Walt Cunnigham'sopinion in the Houston Chronicle - nor your bias against Hubble and forthe ISS.

    Mr. Cunningham's thoughts seem perfectly reasonable to me - fix theinsulation and fly. It seems crazy to be afraid to perform missions wealready have performed before. Now we need safe havens and backupmissions just to enter LEO? I'm afraid we have lost our nerve.

    I am sure every astronaut would volunteer for the Hubble servicing mission.They know the risks of spaceflight and accept them.

    By the way, I did read the CAIB report and understood it. I happen to be anaerospace engineer. Admiral Gehman's report does not preclude HubbleServicing missions - only risk averse and timid mentality does.

    A Hubble mission is arguably no more risky than an ISS mission. And it's ariskany astronaut would be willing to take. Especially to prolong the life ofprobablythe most successful and meaningful payload the Shuttle has ever launched.

    Hubble is bigger than NASA and Mr. O'Keefe. Hubble is a national asset; the decision does not lie with NASA. The move in Congress to direct NASA to fly SM4 is the right approach.

    The Hubble decision brings to light NASA's continuing inability to "think outside the box". The development of an Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (manned or unmanned) would provide the ability to save Hubble and at the same time provide a valuable capability to supply Station (no need for every payload to be able to auto-dock), not to mention satellite orbital insertion/recovery. At the same time providing experience in operation and design of space craft for our mission to the Moon and beyond.


    You have developed a huge following by providing critical analysis andinformed opinions about NASA and its comings and goings. I personally checkyour website many times a day to keep up with OUR agency. I have becomeincreasing disturbed by the mean-spirited attitude you have displayed sincethe Bush Administration announcement of the exploration policy and thecancellation of the HST servicing mission. Your comments about WaltCunningham's opinion piece were uncalled for, but are consistent with yourresponses to many who have questioned or criticized the Administration inrecent months. His editorial was thoughtful and accurate. You offered noinformation contradicting anything he said; you just criticized him foropening his mouth.

    After having spent 20 years at KSC working for NASA on the Shuttle and ISSPrograms, I feel like I have some expertise that can be used to take acritical view of Agency activities and policies. The fact of the matter onHST is that Sean is dead wrong about canceling the HST mission. If its notsafe to fly to HST, it isn't safe to fly at all. I reread the white paperon the rationale for the cancellation that is linked to NASA Watch and therationale is wrong regarding the potential problems with having a rescueshuttle on the pad. How much of the rest of the rationale is flawed?

    About the only thing that the Exploration policy does is guarantee that HSTand Shuttle are doomed and that our involvement in and use of ISS will bedownsized to a trivial level long before its useful life is over. It alsoguarantees that there will be a long gap in having a US capability to sendpeople into space. How in the world can one justify a gap of 6 or 7 yearsbetween first flight of manned spacecraft and its first occupied flight? Iwould love for my former USNTPS classmate Craig Steidle to explain that one.I cant believe that you think it to be reasonable. As I recall, the roadmapcalled for a first flight in 2008 and a manned flight in 2014. I hope theymade a typo.

    I think that you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you havebecome so defensive and mean-spirited. It seems that you have lost yourobjectivity to take a critical look at the Agency and provide the communitywith other opinions. I too want to see us return to the moon and mars, andwe do need desperately to develop a new method to travel to LEO and beyond... way beyond. The Bush plan might be a good place to start the policydiscussion that needs to take place, but it isn't necessarily THE way to go.

    I know that many of you who read this are NASA employees heading forretirement this year. I don't work for NASA, at least not officially, butsomeday they're going to figure out that I'm their biggest cheerleader.Minus the skirt and pom-poms, of course.

    Have you ever seen this movie, featuring Kevin Costner as an aging pitcher,contemplating retirement, who throws a perfect game in his final appearance?Sean O'Keefe blew a perfect chance to engage all of you when he arbitrarilycancelled SM-4 and cited the CAIB's recommendations about having in-orbitTPS repair capability in place. If he had stated that you have two years toget this done, and thrown down the gauntlet, it would've signified a"can-do" attitude "out here", instead of being paralyzed with fear.

    I'm sure that you folks get inundated with your share of paradigms andmission statements on a daily basis. But you've never heard them from me,one of the folks in the crowd at KSC and the Smithsonian. Now, you will. Butremember that I'm 48, with a 11 year old son who wants to go to Mars.I've read that the RTF suggestions mailbox received 286 suggestions, out of286 million people. I had one of them, with two suggestions. Since themailbox was open to the world, what does that tell me? That no one reallycares? I hope not.

    Before you clock out for the last time this year, look at yourself in themirror, and ask yourself why you joined NASA in the first place. We all knowthat it wasn't for the money. It was to make a difference, to contribute, tobe part of the continuance of Kennedy's dream.

    Use all of the information you have available to you and solve theseproblems. Keeping the Hubble online is just the tip of the iceberg, becausewhat you accomplish, or fail to accomplish, will affect spaceflight formany years to come. Don't say "It's not my job" or "No one cares" because weout in the bleachers are watching.

    Do whatever it takes to solve these RTF issues.

    Throw YOUR perfect game.

    Then you can retire.

    Mr Cowing: Thanks for offering outside observers of the space program, such as myself, so many chances to speak out. NASA's recent decision to cancel all shuttle flights to Hubble really brings us back to the good old 20/20 Hindsight! Think of how many times that NASA has send shuttles into space with no 'safe haven' in place, such as Mir and the ISS. The first 25 flights between STS-1 and the Challenger accident. And then they got Discovery ready to go in 1988, still with no 'safe haven'. They then flew alot more flights before they started docking shuttle missions to Mir. When we think back about the foam falling off the external tanks and impacting the shuttle's tiles all these years, compounded with the fact that lots of these flights were sent up with no 'safe haven such as the Mir or ISS, and also not even any rescue plan in place on those docking missions, it really gives me the chills to think about all the risks they took with all those flights. Terrible that we had to lose another 7 astronauts to realize all this.

    Why not send Robonaut to HST for simple repair and replacement of Gyros to allow the telescope to go as long as possible? It would make a great use of telerobotics techniques already used in labs and would be a great dry run for any future EVA required activity with the James Webb Telescope. Dust off the Interim Control Module mate Robonaut and the spares on it and put this existing technology on an Atlas 5 and go for it in a few years. We keep forgetting that we have the technology.

    According to, the DART (Demonstration of AutonomousRendezvous Technology) project will "provide expertise in de-orbitingthe Hubble Space Telescope. " The plan is to send up a "boosterrocket" to de-orbit the observatory and drop in the ocean.

    From what I understand, the longevity of HST depends on itsgyroscopes. If they can attach a rocket motor, they can attach arocket motor that just happens to contain a new attitude controlsystem for HST including gyros. When the new attitude control systemfails, then they can fire that rocket.

    Also, I think NASA needs to understand that they are managing anational asset (and to some degree an international asset). There maybe quite a few institutions interested in financing the HST servicemission or the mission I described above. And, some of them mighteven have better ideas than that. Perhaps NASA simply give HST tosome research consortium who would then have to come up with the fundsand technology to keep it working or to bring it down. NASA wouldhave to have veto power for safety reasons, though.

    Thanks for the opportunity to speak!

    How about Hubble2?

    Instead of paying $500M to $1B to train for and launch a servicing mission, we could pull the backup mirror out of the museum, hook the replacement gyros up to it, replace the optics on the new instruments and launch an all new Hubble2 (complete with deorbit motor) on an EELV.

    Even if it cost $300+M to complete design and assembly of Hubble2, and another $100+M to launch it, the cost would still probably be less than a servicing mission, and the new hubble could be designed to last longer between visits. (Or we could just replace them every 8 years.)

    I do think that Hubble has made and can and will continue to make important contributions to Astronomy, however, it, like the shuttle itself, is one of the most expensive solutions to the problem of getting better data. If we had a more responsive and less expensive RLV, then servicing might be a great thing. But since the only likely craft available to service Hubble is Shuttle, I think Hubble2 is a good alternative.


    I both agree and disagree with NASA decision cancelthe Hubble service mission. With the changes NASA areputting in the chances of anything happening are veryslim. Infact it shows that NASA are to scared nowbecause of Columbia when the attitude shoud be "We canand will do this".

    But I can understand the decision for the simplereason even before the Columbia accident the remainingshuttles were booked to fly ISS missions and it wasColumbia to fly Hubble service missions and trying tofit in Hubble into the launch schedule now will behard.

    But I really hope that they can do it as Hubble hasbeen an extremely important and it will useful to keepHubble going for as long as they can

    From your article "Astronomy Community Disputes NASA s Hubble Plans" of Tuesday, February 10, 2004: "In the post-Columbia way of doing business NASA had decided that in order to assure the safety of a crew flying to service Hubble that another shuttle would need to be fueled and ready to go in case the first shuttle was damaged and unable to return to Earth.

    "This would be required since the Hubble and the space station are in different orbits. This would prevent a crippled orbiter from reaching the space station as a 'safe haven' if problems arose. Of course this would add considerable complexity to the standard way of doing things. 'This means two countdowns, two control centers, two of everything' NASA's Associate Administrator for Spaceflight William Readdy said in a teleconference with reporters on Monday."

    From your article "NASA Planning to Move Next Shuttle Mission to 2005" of Tuesday, February 17, 2004: "Meanwhile, STS-300 was baselined last week for a November 15, 2004 launch date - the same as the current planned STS-121 launch date. STS-300 is a pre-staged rescue mission to be in place to recover the STS-114 crew from the ISS in the event of non-repairable damage to the shuttle orbiter Atlantis used to fly STS-114."

    They can't fly SM4 because they would have to have a rescue mission ready to go, but they're going to fly STS-114 with a rescue misssion ready to go? What am I missing here?

    Keith: Hope you're still accepting comments on SM4, and keep up the goodwork dealing with Pike, Roland, etc.:

    "After the Apollo 1 accident, you couldn't start a fire in the CommandModule if you wanted to. After the Challenger accident, you couldn't get anSRB field joint to leak even with an intentional O-ring defect. When theshuttle returns the flight with all the new damage prevention measuresimplemented, the chances of a Columbia-type incident will be vanishinglysmall (and it only happened once in over a hundred prior flights with noneof the new measures in place). With all due respect to the CAIB and theAdministrator, I begin to wonder if everyone is overreacting to the RCC/tiledamage risk after Return To Flight. The SM4 decision could have at leastwaited until the first several missions were completed and thermalprotection results analyzed."

    HST has had a significant impact on astronomy and is definitely worth another servicing mission. The Shuttle is not unsafe, it is NASA management that is unsafe. Both Shuttle accidents were due to known problems which could have been corrected but were ignored in spite of their catastrophic potential. If not for poor management, the Shuttle would have an unprecedented 100% flight success rate. Therefore, I believe it is safe to perform SM-4 as long as NASA management makes the right decisions for Return To Flight. The Shuttle is at it's safest after RTF because the workforce, and more importantly management, has their eye on the ball in regards to safety. Only after long periods of success does management become lax and allow serious issues to be declared non-problems at the highest of levels while stifling the concerns of the workforce. O'Keefe needs to quit managing out of fear of screwing up again. And boy did he screw up with Columbia by putting the pressure on the workforce to meet ISS Core Complete by 2/19/04, at Bush's command of course. If O'Keefe wants to save money, maybe he ought to do SM-4 and cancel all flights to ISS as an unnecessary risk. After all, HST has returned more science than ISS ever could, especially with a minimal crew who can barely do maintenance (and I'm talking the 3 person crew it had, not the current 2 person crew, again thanks to Bush). Besides, there's no science freezers to do human biology experiments and return samples. MELFI has never flown powered and the MPLM has never been flown in an active configuration (and won't for years to come). I just wish NASA had more intelligent management. They are either technical-oriented but fiscally retarded so they ruin the budget with enormous cost overruns (thanks JSC) or they are money-smart but dumb as a bag of hammers on technical issues (ala O'Keefe). We need someone with both the fiscal aptitude and technical background to do the right things technically within the budget we are allotted. Unfortunately, there are no more Von Braun's in the world.

    p.s. Whatever the decision, I have complete faith in our management to make the wrong one.


    Thanks for offering these forums.

    Those suggesting the ISS orbit as an intermediary enabler for HST servicing need to understand just how difficult the orbital mechanics makes it. The shuttle carries about 1000 ft/sec velocity-change capability of OMS propellant into space, including what it has to use for initial orbit insertion (OMS-2) and deorbit. Those two burns collectively use up roundabout half. So, a shuttle may have (optimistically) about 500 ft/sec available to use for any orbit-changing maneuvers.

    Plane changes (altering the orbital inclination included) are VERY expensive Delta-V-wise; they require in the ballpark of 700-900 ft/sec per ONE degree at shuttle altitudes (dV = 2*base orbital velocity*sine(angle/2); in other words, if the shuttle launches to the Station, it would only be able to lower itself inclination-wise to 51 or so degrees, and that's being generous. Hubble is at 28.5 degrees. 1000 ft/sec of OMS prop capability weighs in at around 24,000 pounds. THEORETICALLY (VERY theoretically!), the shuttle might carry 40,000 extra pounds of OMS prop in the payload bay, assuming the tankage was available AND nothing else was there. Go ahead and do the math and you'll see that the shuttle at its theoretical best (using lots of previously unflown OMS tankage) could lower its inclination from ISS (51.6 degrees) to only 49ish degrees. To sum up, that means a shuttle would NOT be able to get from the ISS orbit to the HST orbit. [Bonus reality: ISS is in that orbit because we're partnering with Russia; Freedom was going to be at 28.5. Compromises, compromises . . .]

    So, you ask, how about sending HST back to ISS-land with an automatic booster? This of course presupposes a delicate autonomous rendezvous could be achieved and that HST could handle the contamination of both the booster (including the shaking thrust environment) and ISS region--all big assumptions. 51.6 - 28.5 = 23.1 degrees makes for a required planar velocity change of roughly 10,000 feet/sec. Think about that; that's a sizable percentage of the base orbital velocity (~25,000 ft/sec), which means a whopper of a booster stage. (HST weighs ~24,500 pounds; I'll let someone more qualified work out the rocket equation to come up with precise booster size.)

    Realistically, then, this leaves us three options:

    a) Don't do SM4;

    b) Do SM4 as planned, after we perfect an autonomous shuttle TPS inspect (AERcam-Sprint?) & repair (Plume Boom?) capability and have a 2nd shuttle (the following ISS mission in the queue) [or three-four Soyuzes (would this be possible?)] standing by on the ground;

    c) Do SM4 (or some portion thereof--an attitude control supplemental system seems most viable) using a ground-launched autonomous system.

    Before I had been leaning toward giving (c) a shot, but, y'know, (b) makes a lot of sense--the Apollo 18 20 deju-vu-regrets possibility is smelling stronger and stronger.

    HOWEVER, one risk of (b) I haven't seen discussed is the risk that a third shuttle loss would pose to ISS Assembly Complete--don't forget that the Columbia scenario isn't the only way of losing a shuttle & crew. Since finishing ISS is to be the shuttle's primary duty per the proposed new space strategy, perhaps the challenge of finishing ISS with only two orbiters (assuming an HST mission catastrophe, on a mission NOT dedicated to ISS completion) was part of the decision equation. Hardware-centered heartlessness, but an issue nonetheless.

    So I offer these thoughts for Mr. O'Keefe's (re)consideration.

    If it is to dangerous to send the Shuttle to maintain the Hubble, how about Soyuz? This might take both a Progress, automatic cargo version of Soyuz, to carry parts, etc, and a manned Soyuz to bring astronauts to do the work.

    I have so many feelings about this issue that it's hard to have a single, coherent position on it.

    1. HST and the ST Science Institute have done a fantastic job in involving the public in the excitement and awe of astronomical imagery.

    2. The prospect of several years of coordinated observations by HST, Chandra, and SIRTF was one that excited much of the astronomical community. The possibility of overlap with JWST was of sufficient importance that the Bahcall committee was willing to recommend considering stifling other possible new missions to enable it.

    3. There are lots of other space science missions that do great science, too, often at far lower cost per number of refereed papers in professional journals.

    4. SM4 slippage, and possible future servicing missions recommended by the Bahcall committee, would have had to be funded by gutting the Discovery and Explorer programs --- from which, it could easily be argued, a lot more "science per buck" is derived than from larger programs such as HST. Even assuming HST were doing the fraction or quality of all NASA space science some of its warmest admirers have stated here, would it be right to continue HST at the cost of new technology and new science? It could be argued that the longevity of HST and the enormous cost of manned servicing missions has kept the "cork in the bottle" by stifling lower-cost, new technology missions. Arguably, without an STScI to help with public outreach, the scientific achievements of these smaller missions are less familiar to the public.

    5. HST's capabilities, though, are unique, as has been mentioned here several times --- adaptive optics (AO) on the ground is limited in field of view and wavelength --- and optical/UV astronomers won't see another large "light bucket" in space for another ~ 20 years or more. The observatory on the moon business, much as we might want it, has to be seen as ripe with opportunities for Lucy yanking the football away, and it would be decades before such an observatory could be built and productive.

    6. HST is unlikely to die tomorrow; its gyros and batteries still have some life left in them, and some science could still be done with reduced numbers of gyros.

    7. The gyros to be installed during SM4 are refurbished (I believe) and unlikely to have the lifetime or perform to the same specification, as long, as did the earlier gyros.

    8. For the coming last six years of the Shuttle's lifetime, it has to be viewed as fundamentally unsafe --- that is the real message of the CAIB report.

    8. We have to ask ourselves seriously if the new science that could be achieved by extending HST operations yet again warrants risking human life.

    9. As an astrophysicist, I believe it does --- but if and only if the only lives put at risk are those of astronomers, those who have a burning desire to do the science that would be allowed by a mission extension. The Shuttle astronauts will always jump at the chance to do something as interesting as an HST servicing mission: not only is it not as boring as hauling cargo up to and trash down from the ISS, it's challenging in and of itself --- and they want to fly. As long as we need skilled pilots and flight engineers onboard to get Shuttles up and down, it's plain wrong to ask them to do what robots can do.

    10. There will never be an end to the argument over whether it's better to launch new missions with more advanced technologies but ever higher development costs, or try to put missions in low earth orbit and service them with replacement hardware with the enormous expense and significant risk of manned missions. Fortunate are they whose missions got to places where it's hard (today) for astronauts to follow (L1, L2, comets, asteroids, Mars) --- they have to build things right the first time, or they lose. If the exploration initiative succeeds, we'll be able to have the same discussion over servicing missions much farther away from home --- but probably no more conclusively.

    If a Shuttle can carry the required fuel, I'm sure that Astronauts can go from Hubble back to the Space Station to carry out inspections before returning to earth. We all love Musgrove's account of "the dance" to repair HST !!................A WONDERFUL ACHIEVEMENT !!

    Hi Keith,

    Short of a sophisticated automated robotic service vehicle, I can't see how to maintain the Hubble without a shuttle though I am an avid supporter of its scientific research. Would it be possible to remotely attach a delicate booster to the scope and modify the orbit to match the ISS? If so, would it be practical to attach it to the ISS as part of it's scientific mission despite subtle station vibrations and periodic attitude changes? The station gives us the ability to monitor and repair things things so much better than isolated orbits and obsolete vehicles. It would also save on remote maintenance costs.

    Dear Keith,

    Can I weigh in to your page of responses on Hubble?

    Firstly, I don't think this is an easy judgement either wayand I think Mr O'Keefe took a responsible decision, even ifI do disagree with it.

    Secondly, an exaggerated reaction to safety concerns- which I don't think is the case here - is not necessarilyirrational. This decision may have a salutary effect onengineers elsewhere in the Shuttle programme,reminding all that NASA cares enough about safetyto make painful sacrifices for it. If Mr O'Keefe maynot be saving these lives, but he may be savingothers, by making the point that a 2% risk of crewloss is different from a 1% risk.

    Thirdly, I accept that the loss of lives in a NASA accidenthas a greater significance than a similar industrialaccident elsewhere, because astronauts in some senserepresent us. They carry the flags of our nations, andthey also embody our feelings about exploration.In that same sense, the Station may be "worth" morethan Hubble, because it is a vocation rather than anexperimental laboratory. So I think cheap ripostesabout whether the S2 starboard truss section is"worth more" than Hubble are shallow arguments.

    However, and with the deepest respect for those whodied and those who are still agreeing to go up there,we accept that a new bridge, a new dam, a new tunnel,etc., will cost lives. Architects of dams in Africa or Asiaroutinely include chapels of remembrance in theirblueprints, for they will be needed. We send ourpeople out to dozens of war zones around the world,to keep the peace. Many are killed.

    What we should not do is to raise bogus arguments tosay that visiting Hubble is as safe as visiting ISS.I know it is easy to be brave with other people's lives,but we should be saying something braver: that thiswould be a (moderately) more dangerous flight thanusual, but in a great and good cause. Humanexploration is a great cause, but so is science.If building ISS ennobles us, so does building Hubble.We should not flinch.

    A few things to point out, in repsonse to what's been said in other comments:

    1. One respondant suggested that there was a logical flaw in assuming that HST missions are just as safe as ISS mission. In fact that person made an elementary error in probability. If there is 1/10 chance that an ISS mission will get into orbit, but not make port (such as would occur with a SSME failure, then Abort to Orbit), then with 30 missions to complete the ISS, this would happen 3 times. If there is any significant chance that at even one ISS mission cannot make port as the ISS is completed, then one is accepting at least the SM-4 risk, and perhaps more, based on the anonymous documents.

    2. There as been completely reckless talk of what adaptive optics from the ground can do in the near future, let alone what it is doing now. There is zero capabality now or even planned to do wide-field diffraction limited imaging in the visible wavelengths from the ground. Adaptive optics are great for bright compact targets in the near-IR, but they cannot replace what Hubble can do.

    3. The JWST will be wonderful when it flies, but it is not an HST replacement. The Bahcall committee recently outlined a sensible approach to the HST/JWST transition period. One can argue about supporting SM-5. new instruments, etc. versus spending the money elsewhere in space-science (as we were doing just a few weeks ago). An abrupt cancilation of SM-4 with $200M+ spent on new instruments is not the way to effect an orderly transition. If this is how we do things, JWST, and manyy other missions will be next....

    As a student who has dreamed of spaceflight for years, I'm in tears over the decision to abandon the Hubble to a slow death before its time. Astronauts and manned missions are flashy and exciting, but it's the beauty of the images that Hubble returns that ignites a true and long-lasting love affair with the stars.

    Without the Hubble images of M16 and M27 to remind me why I'm putting myself through the difficulty of studying astrophysics, I would not have made it to graduation.

    - A heartbroken dreamer


    I read your piece about the anonymous engineers on HST. One other option that may not have been mentioned is one that refutes Ed Weiler's position on co-orbiting HST with ISS to mitigate concerns about doing the servicing mission without a safe-haven for the crew. Simple orbital mechanics dictates that a plane change from 28.5 to 56 deg is not feasible at LEO, it is quite doable at GEO or higher. GEO comm birds that don't launch on SeaLaunch, do this all the time. It's basically a perigee burn for altitude (about 3 km/s) then apogee plane change at GEO (neglible delta-V). Only difference here is instead of 28.5 to 0 deg, it's 28.5 to 56 deg. Also, we would just need another 3 km/s retrograde to bring the HST into an appropriate altitude for the servicing mission. Orbit angle can be 180 from ISS to assure of no collision. Shuttle can first launch to ISS, be inspected, then phasing burns to HST, servicing, then go home.

    This is an idea, I have not seen anywhere, and while it IS rocket science, it's not that difficult to conceive, especially if NASA is planning to develop this "debooster" with autonomous rendezvous and docking for $300 million. I think they could add the additional propulsion and Guidance and Control logic for about the same overall cost.


    In a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees, the scientific community is so obsessed with saving Hubble that they cannot see that they have the potential to have an even better observatory on the Moon. I think the scientific community would find a NASA willing to reach a mutually beneficial agreement were the scientific community to approach NASA and indicate that they would stop the fight for Hubble in exchange for a promise for first access for a lunar telescope. Instead, they are calling all the chits in to get Hubble serviced and building even greater acrimony with NASA.

    I believe that the Hubble supporters who are fighting tooth and nail to have the servicing mission forced through NASA may end up with a pyric victory. Not something that one would associate with such an intelligent group of people who are supposed to have the capacity for abstract thinking.


    There has been a lot of interest in the anonymous documents describing the risks of a Hubble servicing mission, but I haven't seen much discussion of their content.

    Consider this portion:

    "The existence of or lack of a RCC repair capability will be a problem that is common to HST and ISS missions. While an HST mission will not have a safe haven capability, the risk associated with the absence of a safe haven is the same as ISS missions that fail to dock with the ISS."

    Fine as far as it goes, but there is a logical flaw here - the Hubble mission would deliberately launch into a non-ISS orbit, but an ISS mission would not. The chance of reaching orbit but being unable to dock with the ISS is fairly small - certainly no more than 1 in 10. So, as far as this part of the argument goes, an ISS mission would be at least 10 times safer.

    Is it just me, or do both of these documents seem to be a little ... selective? ... in the arguments they present? Not exactly a balanced engineering argument.

    To NASA Watch:

    I strongly oppose Administrator O'Keefe's decision to abandon the Hubble Telescope. His decision-making style resembles that displayed by Dan Golden. I had hoped that abrupt announcements made in isolation had disappered with the departure of the last administrator. Apparently, Mr. O'Keefe blind-sided those professionals on the Hubble team who had been led to believe that the SM4 mission would proceed.

    In addition, this brings back memories of one of NASA's darkest chapters, namely the sickening cancellation of the Apollo 18 and 19 lunar landing missions. They were sacrificed on the altar of the Space Shuttle. Does Mr. O'Keefe really want to be remembered for making a decision equally as misguided? All of the boosters and spaccraft that had already been built (and paid for) for those two Apollo missions were scrapped. In much the same way, the new camera and spectrometer that were to be installed in HST during Servicing Mission 4 are essentially built and paid for. Scores of devoted individuals have labored over the last several years to bring this instruments alive. What is their reward from the Adiminstrator? A slap in the face! Is this the new NASA?

    It seems that Mr. O'Keefe doesn't "get it." Much of the American tax-paying public EQUATES the Hubble Telescope with the space program. It appears to them that it is one of few missions conducted by the space agency that they can identify with, that they can understand. So what does Mr O'Keefe do a couple of days after President Bush's bold announcement resurrecting manned deep space missions? He negates entirely the tide of joy, excitement and focus that the President's speech had generated. Of course, the news was let out late on a Friday afternoon, before a holiday weekend, and as the news media wa switching to coverage of the primaries and caucuses. This is the new NASA?

    I hope that Admiral Gehman takes into account the many scientific and cultural attributes of HST in his report back to Mr. O'Keefe. The Hubble Space Telescope truly belongs to the American people. I hope that Admiral Gehman charges NASA with using their ingenuity and spirit of innovation to service HST, for it is now NASA's most effective means of inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers "as only NASA can."

    Delivering and servicing Hubble was the most meaningful thing done by the shuttle program in its entire history. Yet somehow, a single servicing mission is now deemed too risky while an additional *25* Shuttle flights will be required to complete the ISS. Any assessment of risk should take into account the possibility of failure during launch, as with Challenger. And I believe there's a reasonable chance one of those 25 missions might fail to reach the Station, making an independent, Shuttle-based inspection/repair/rescue capability a good thing (and not merely a capability developed at considerable expense for one-time use).

    The station may in fact be the colossus of engineering that it's reputed to be, but it's scientific and cultural value is puny compared to HST. The decision to cancel SM4 is naturally viewed with great skepticism and distrust by scientists and average citizens alike. It's obvious, even to the non-technical, that servicing Hubble is a worthy endeavor, even profound. It's also obvious that assembling the ISS is neither.


    There has been a lot of interest in the anonymous documents describing the risks of a Hubble servicing mission, but I haven't seen much discussion of their content.

    Consider this portion:

    "The existence of or lack of a RCC repair capability will be a problem that is common to HST and ISS missions. While an HST mission will not have a safe haven capability, the risk associated with the absence of a safe haven is the same as ISS missions that fail to dock with the ISS."

    Fine as far as it goes, but there is a logical flaw here - the Hubble mission would deliberately launch into a non-ISS orbit, but an ISS mission would not. The chance of reaching orbit but being unable to dock with the ISS is fairly small - certainly no more than 1 in 10. So, as far as this part of the argument goes, an ISS mission would be at least 10 times safer.

    Is it just me, or do both of these documents seem to be a little ... selective? ... in the arguments they present? Not exactly a balanced engineering argument.

    With all the whining I am hearing about NASA's discontinuing the upgrades to Hubble (HST), I feel obligated to write this note to support NASA's position on this. I am a university astrophysicist who admittedly does not do Hubble science. I question the wisdom of the communities call for continuing to upgrade HST, which will certainly come at the expense of other science endeavors regardless of the new Mars initiative.

    The HST has produced much wonderful data with spectacular scientific results. However, one must ask, what will the continuation of HST bring in comparison to what new space experiments might bring? We obviously cannot continue HST, bring on the James Webb Telescope, and support other important areas of research. One must also consider the risk, and ask if the continuation of HST is worth the human and financial risk. Are astronomers willing to give up the Webb telescope to continue HST? A balance must be struck, which NASA management seems to be trying to achieve.

    Scientists in general are a very conservative lot. We like things to be ordered and we do not generally like change. I think this may be partially what NASA management is up against. I think Dan Goldin said it right (and I don't mean by this to generally support his policies) a few years ago at an AAS meeting when he said something to the effect that Hubble Huggers will have to let go some day and move on to other things. It seems that that day is near and we will need to move on to other things. It is this moving on that usually leads to the real breakthrough science.

    I vote for servicing the Hubble through a robotic mission. The Hubble is designed to be serviced by astronauts in full pressure suits. It is designed to be caught by the shuttle's arm. So it would seem like a "doable" problem to design a robotic S/C to lock on to one or two of the shuttle-arm attachment points and then service the shuttle as required. Can a hand inside a pressure glove be better than a mechanical hand/arm? Since the Hubble is in a low orbit, using TV cameras and live control of the robot could be done (possibly multiple control centers would be necessary so that a controller would be near the S/C at all times). We could launch this on expendable vehicle such as an Atlas or similar.

    This would seem a lot easier than what is currently being done on Mars.

    Another thought: If we can send up a robot to de-orbit the Hubble, could we not send up a robot to re-orient its orbit to be closer to the space station? Then maybe the shuttle could service it while remaining within the rules of being close enough to the space station to have a "Safe Haven". A similar robot could then boost the Hubble back to its original orbit.

    In NASA de-orbiting the Hubble just to preserve the notion that human servicing of it was ever needed?

    In a time when those who are against space, believe that we can notafford a space program that costs less then 1% of the national budget,we must show a willingness to forgo more esoteric pursuits. But with allthings that we try to get the American public to swallow, things are notwhat they seem.

    Early next decade, Hubble's replacement is slated to go up. Hubblecurrently has a lifetime of about 6 more years, barring any accidents.That gives us no UV data for at most 6 years. And no pretty pictures forthat time.

    What, in a best case scenario, do we get in return? Next generationfleet of shuttles that will deliver on the promise that this fleet ofshuttles failed. No more one size fits all. This will help deliver apermanent base on the moon, which will bring a Far-side Observatory thatmuch quicker.

    How likely this outcome happens depends if we can properly educate themass of non space enthusiasts that make up the voting super majority.

    Does it truly matter if its safety or the new policy that made thedecision? When in reality it most likely a bit of both that truly didit. This would have been the finial supply mission anyways.

    The shuttle needs to be retired. Its more expensive then it needs to be.If it wasn't for two things, I would say ground the fleet now. Thequicker we can ground them the better, for a manned spaced program.

    We have global obligations to finish the ISS, and the building of it gives us experience of micro-g construction. The ISS was designed aroundthe cargo bay of the shuttle. This frees up the design constraints ofthe cargo shuttle replacement.

    The second reason why we can't ground it is the most important for amanned space program. Nothing to replace it as a crewed vehicle. Nowthis is what gives us a ray of hope in keeping the Hubble alive untilits replacement.

    With all the various x-initiatives canceled in recent years, who is tosay the shuttles replacement isn't delayed and they can put SM4 back inthe rotation sometime in the next 6 years.

    But if not, it is better to have a sacrifice of waiting four years, oreven ten years, for Hubble like data in exchange for a jump start of amanned program that will yield even more scientific data even fasterthen the status quo allows.

    I am finding it interesting that those political figures that have lambasted NASA and its sub-contractors, sometimes appropriately, for failing to take adequate safety measures during Space Shuttle missions, will now be willing to deviate from the CAIB's report in order to perform a servicing mission on the aging Hubble Telescope, could bring unwarranted detrimental factors into a mission that at this point, are not operational, but experimental. Political maneuvering at its worst at the expense of human lives.

    I do hope that NASA reverses its decision to discontinue servicing the Hubble. Obviously this is one of the greatest scientific tools ever created and its work will never be done. President Bush's grand plansfor moon colonization and Mars manned exploration will be a waste of money. Unmanned tools are where we should be devoting our investment andresearch since we will get much more bang-for-the-bucks. The Hubble and the Mars rovers are just an example of what can be accomplished. This idea of putting man far out in space is pointless.

    Can I do anything to help save the Hubble?

    Mr O'Keefe, Adm. Gehman,

    I'm a homebuilt flyer/builder along the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Managing risk comes at many levels for my passion.

    Judgement, planning, execution encompass every flight in my experimental aircraft.

    I understand Mr. O'Keefe you are following Admiral Gehman's report guidelines for Shuttle return to flight. But Hubble's last upgrade mission is worth any percieved risk based on CAIB findings.

    I understand choices based on financial budget constrains. President Bush's Moon-Mars initiative will force delays, cancellation, and reorganization of NASA to meet the Presidents goals.

    But the final last mission is worth BOTH CAIB's risk assessment exception AND financially, a bargain for the science returned to humanity.

    It seems very strange to me that this whole issue to repair HST with the Shuttle hasn't blow wide open. What's happened to your ability to get at the truth? Why are just a few people at the top able to make this decision to terminate the Shuttle HST mission? I am worried that the same exclusive mentality and arrogance that brought down Columbia is still alive and well in the Shuttle Program management. In my opinion, nothing has changed. I don't think they realize it but the new management is still sending the wrong signals to the workforce.At first I had hope that things would change and get better. But now I doubt it.I say let's go back and repair HST so the Shuttle Program can be proud of its mission and the HST can fulfill its destiny.

    Why does O'Keefe have the authority to make this decision? Hubble belongs to all of us. It is not just another piece of NASA hardware. President Bush's directive should not mean abandoning all that has come before. What a dumb and thoughtless decision.

    Here are just two of the many ways that the Hubble can be saved.

    what would be needed is a slightly modified version of the shuttle C. Meaning with an update cargo module; one that has a return safety capsule (CEV), a grapping section to latch onto the Hubble from the cargo container bay. Which would then have a follow up mission from the space shuttle with necessary hardware with a minimal staff to accomplish the task of retro fitting it with all the upgrades. Since the earlier shuttle C module is in place you now have a safe haven retreat should anything go wrong as well as a return module in the CEV capsule. I assume that it needs to remain in it's current orbital alignment and altitude. Other wise use the shuttle C module once docked to tow it to the space stations orbital alignment and altitude for a later repair by the usual missions to supply the station.

    If it is possible to stow a Soyuz capsule less launch and orbital stuff inside the cargo bay of the shuttle.

    This would satisfy the safe haven requirement for return from orbit if the shuttle were damaged and not repairable at that time.

    If is not needed then you have it for the next time that one is required. Of course there must be also room left over for all the upgrades that would be made on such a mission.


    I apologize if I am sending this to the wrong place, but I couldn't find Sean O'Keefe's email address or phone number. Please forward this to the person in charge of the Hubble maintenance team if possible.

    I have never sent a message to NASA and if I have a complaint about government I call my senator or representative, so this is a first. I do not know anyone personally working in the space or defense industries.

    I am a 40 year old woman, a molecular biologist at a private biotech company. When I was a child, I spent hours glued to the black and white TV watching the astronauts landing on the moon. Gene Kranz and the gang are some of my heroes. My husband and I have no children. Like the rest of America, I cried for Columbia and Challenger and cheered for Spirit.

    Unlike many in America, I initially welcomed President Bush's new commitment to space colonization, though like everyone else wondered where the money would come from. PLEASE rethink the plan to not maintain the Hubble telescope. I can't believe that with all the maintenance equipment already built and ready to fly, and with all that the Hubble has already contributed, that there is not another way. I understand the shuttle safety concerns and do not want to see the astronauts take on any more risk than they already do, but the Hubble is working so well and showing us such wonders that it seems an incredible waste to not take the opportunity to extend the telescope's wonderful life and let it continue to make contributions. As someone whose tax dollars help to pay for NASA, it seems to me reasonable to continue with a jewel of a program and put off the moon base for a few years. A bird in the hand is worth two on the moon?

    I'll not take up your time or mailbox any longer. But I would love to see the Hubble keep flying into the next decade, with the famous NASA know-how.

    Why not send Robonaut to HST for simple repair and replacement of Gyros to allow the telescope to go as long as possible? It would make a great use of telerobotics techniques already used in labs and would be a great dry run for any future EVA required activity with the James Webb Telescope. Dust off the Interim Control Module mate Robonaut and the spares on it and put this existing technology on an Atlas 5 and go for it in a few years. We keep forgetting that we have the technology.

    Dear Mr. Cowing,

    The decision to cancel the next Hubble service mission was a judgement call on O'Keefe's part, and even though I don't agree with it personally I can see why he made the choice he did. NASA needs all the budget authority it can to start on the new manned vehicle, and SM-4 was the mission least related to its current duties of returning Shuttle to flight and finishing Station, which duties are currently crowding that budget authority. So he decided to cut SM-4. I doubt it was an easy choice, and I think some of the flack he's taking is a bit unfair, but making difficult choices and taking flak for them are what executives are supposed to do. At least O'Keefe is doing these things, which far too many career NASA managers seem unwilling or unable to do. For this, I think, his decision deserves at least some approval.

    However, I can hardly disapprove of the current uproar over SM-4 cancellation, as it may prompt Congress to find some extra budget authority for NASA to bring back SM-4. I can't imagine O'Keefe being averse to carrying out the mission under those circumstances, nor can I imagine him having been blind to this possible outcome when he made his decision.

    But I will not predict any particular outcome, as the auguries have failed us rather notoriously of late. Instead I will say that, if we get additional money for SM-4, that would be great; but if we don't, that is acceptable--provided this sacrifice does indeed produce a reinvigorated manned American space program.

    Hi Keith To save the Hubble Telescope all that is needed would be a slightly modified shuttle C with an update cargo module; one that has a return safety capsule (CEV), a grapping section to latch onto the Hubble and a follow up mission from the space shuttle with necessary hardware with a minimal staff to accomplish the task of retro fitting it with all the upgrades. I assume that it needs to remain in it's current orbital alignment and altitude. Other wise use the shuttle C module once docked to tow it to the space stations orbital alignment and altitude for a later repair by the usual missions to supply the station.

    Don't waste what has already been paid for.

    Since the Hubble will require the development of a robotic mission todeorbit it safely that same mission could be altered to boost the Hubbleinto a long term storage orbit where it could await the development of amission that would restore it to operation. It would in fact be safer tokeep Hubble in orbit that to try to guide it to a splashdown. The proposedCEV will make it possible to service the Hubble again though the parts forservicing might have to be launched separately from the manned CEV itself,we only need to be able to save the Hubble long enough to make such amission possible.

    People seem to be taking great pains to be defensive about how this decisionis not related to the new space policy. But in fact, it is. Here's howit's linked. By not flying SM-4, it will take one fewer Shuttle flights tocomplete ISS, meaning that more $$ will be available to support the "newvision." If I were in Code T, I'd want as much budget available as soon aspossible to make progress towards the Administration's new milestones. Thisis pressure on the Administrator from Codes T, not S. In making thisdecision, the Administrator is freeing up more $$ for the president's "newvision". If the "new vision" didn't exist, then it's not clear at all thatthe same pressure would exist.

    Make sense? So this is the kind of decision that gets made in this kind of environment.

    Hi Keith, If the Shuttle is so unsafe that it can't visit HST, it's never going to be able to visit Station safely, either. In fact, the whole story about "safe haven" requirements appears to admit just that...and fix it with a band-aid that doesn't address many of the risks. Let's either accept the risks and use the Shuttle to do some good work to accompany the "man in a can" stunts (which is what the Station has degraded to with such limited capability...almost no science, no satellite servicing, no assembly base...I could go on and on) or dump the thing altogether, ride on Russian rockets for the foreseeable future, and use the money saved to develop a system that provides assured, affordable access to low earth orbit.

    If we are not willing to "risk" the Shuttle flight to repair HST what makesus think we can risk going to the Moon or Mars?

    Despite my previous messages urging O'Keef to reconsider the SM4 servicing mission, I think the idea of using a space tug to reposition the Hubble and park it near the ISS is medium cool. In fact, it's got legs. As previously mentioned, it furthers the cause of space development as well as serves science. What a concept! No only that, it fits within the president's plan of using robots and manned missions to achieve a single goal. As far as I am concerned, we all need to back to the president's plan and include Hubble within that plan. It can be done with the right creative thinking.

    The rationale for cancelling the last Hubble servicing mission seems flawed. Safety?!! Is it safer to land a man on the moon or Mars than to perform the next Hubble mission? I don't see the logic. We're willing to risk human life to send a man to Mars but not to repair Hubble. We're willing to risk human life to finish a scientifically questionable space station but not to repair Hubble. This is a brilliant political move however. No one seems to be comparing the two risks. O'Keefe can cling to the CAIB report because there is no CAIB report-equivalent for a lunar/Mars mission. What a colossal blunder...

    Posted to sci.astro.hubble

    Subject: RE: Daily 3536

    Newsgroups: sci.astro.hubble
    Date: 2004-01-23 09:52:35 PST
    Dear HST friends and colleagues...

    On behalf of the MOD team members here at JSC that have had the privilege ofworking with you on past missions, I'd like to express our regrets that theagency will apparently not be pursuing the planned SM4. The Hubble SpaceTelescope represents a cornerstone of achievement on so many levels withinthis agency. It is truly a "gem" for us all to celebrate. One couldsuccessfully argue that our success in building ISS in orbit began with thegroundbreaking work in methods, techniques and tools that flowed fromServicing Mission 1 in 1993... which demonstrated that ambitious orbitalassembly and maintenance by EVA was possible.

    I have been fortunate enough to be part of every HST mission the SpaceShuttle Program has flown, from deployment in 1990 through four verysuccessful servicing missions. I've carried away from that experiencepersonal and professional relationships with many of you that I will alwaystreasure, and I count the time spent working on HST as some of the mostpersonally satisfying of my career.

    The HST team has much to contribute to the future of this agency - not theleast of which is keeping HST productive through the next several years. Weare all proud of your team's accomplishments... and look forward to yet morediscoveries in the years to come.

    Jeff Hanley
    Flight Director Office
    NASA Johnson Space Center
    281-244-0202 mob. 832-287-6871

    When the initial Bush space initiative was announced I thought to myself - FINALLY, something to shoot for. I have to admit that what worries me now is that this is nothing but a political ploy to end NASA or severely curtail the agency. Part of the plan is to retire shuttle in 2010. What happens if we get that far, retire shuttle then the administration of the day decides for budget reasons to cancel work on the new Crewed vehicle? The manned space program ends. Nice clean and simple.

    Now we have Hubble being cancelled with a stroke of the pen. The timing is absolutely suspect coming so shortly after this announcement. Using the CAIB report and the difficulty in developing an on orbit repair capability to me is a cowardly way out. NASA has flown 112 missions successfully with no need of in flight repair. The odds to me seem in favour of going as is to do the Hubble mission. If necessary, have a second shuttle in the process queue ready to fly if needed, and if not needed it is ready for a station mission soon after. I would bet my mortgage that you would have a lineup of volunteers willing and able to fly in order to do the Hubble m



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