Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space

NASA Preparing Manned Hubble Service Mission 174

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the second-chances dept.
danimrich writes "According to an article at Space.com, 'NASA's new Administrator Mike Griffin told reporters today [April 29] that he informed key members of Congress Thursday evening that he would direct engineers at Goddard Spaceflight center to start preparing for a space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope on the assumption that one ultimately will go forward.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Preparing Manned Hubble Service Mission

Comments Filter:
  • Safety Concerns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:33AM (#12391986)
    Griffin's predecessor, Sean O'Keefe, cancelled a planned Hubble mission in January 2004. O'Keefe cited safety concerns in the wake of the shuttle Columbia disaster.

    There have been several successful shuttle missions [nasa.gov] that have serviced the Hubble in the past so there's no reason to think that this particular type of mission is more dangerous than any other.

    I think anyone stating that a shuttle mission to service the Hubble is not safe has an agenda beyond safety.
    • Easily explainable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Raul654 (453029) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:25AM (#12392206) Homepage
      You have to remember that Sean O'Keefe was a bean counter, who gave top priority to saving his own skin. His statement makes perfect sense when you bear that in mind.
    • Re:Safety Concerns (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gallech (804178) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:49AM (#12392307) Homepage
      I think a bigger issue is our society's overwhelming and ultimately hypocritical concern with "safety". We send men and women off to die in war ever year. Yet the expansion of human horizons through the exploration of space by willing people is "too dangerous". The men and women of the space program know the risks, and for the most part they embrace them. Yes, its sad when lives are lost. But human kind needs risk takers. And I'd rather see people "spending" their lives willingly on something the truly believe in for the betterment of all mankind, than for any squabble over territory or natural resources.
      • Re:Safety Concerns (Score:3, Interesting)

        by d474 (695126)

        "And I'd rather see people "spending" their lives willingly on something the truly believe in for the betterment of all mankind, than for any squabble over territory or natural resources."

        I agree 100% with your entire comment.

        To go one further, I think it's about time this nation drops all the "Wars" on drugs, terrorism, etc., and start a new, single, all encompassing "War on Ignorance". The stated goal of such a war could be to educate the entire global population. To root out Ignorance and repl

        • To go one further, I think it's about time this nation drops all the "Wars" on drugs, terrorism, etc., and start a new, single, all encompassing "War on Ignorance".

          That would require the detainment of all members of Congress who don't read proposed legislation (all of them) in some detention camp and effectively deprive the country of "leadership". . . Okay, let's do it.

        • Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili (AKA Zakhar Grigoryan Melikyants AKA Joseph Stalin)
          Idi Amin Dada
          [I'm trying not to get this thread canned so I won't mention Eva Braun's husband lest it invoke G------'s Law]
          Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde (AKA Ignatius Loyola)
          The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
          Mao Zedong
          Demoiselle Candeille's worshippers
          (append your favourites here)

          Not hard to see why the framers of the US Constitution acted as they did.
        • To root out Ignorance and replace it with Truthful Knowledge would be the ongoing battle

          Now, how is it you're going to "root out" ignorance in places like Afghanistan, where the local monopoly on Truthful Knowledge was wholly owned and operated by the Taliban? You know, the people who would actually take women down to the former soccer field and shoot them at lunch time in front of an audience for: working and sending their daughters to secret classrooms. You know: the Taliban. The medievilist bunch of c
        • ...that of the thousand or so people killed by starvation and disease every hour, day and night, the vast majority were put in this position by regimes which follow the same religion as you do.

          You almost certainly do not think of it as or call it a religion and would probably argue that neither Materialism nor Naturalism were religious positions, because of this bizarre idea that a certain amount of stained glass or chanting has to be involved for it to qualify as a religion - or at least a priest (think R [nationalgeographic.com]
      • We send men and women off to die in war ever year. Yet the expansion of human horizons through the exploration of space by willing people is "too dangerous".

        First, no one (except the medievalist wack jobs preaching to the suicide bombers) sends soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen people off to die. If that's how you think of it, then sending police out on the street every day is "sending them do die," just like sending firefighters out to burning buildings is "sending them to die." That whole line of
        • Why hasn't this guys been modded up? I'd be the very first to say "lets get over to that Eagle Nebula and take a look" or similar but I think that parties on both sides in the parent post (astronauts and the military) these days generally get the chance to choose whether they want to risk their lives or otherwise.

          I hate to see the guy presenting the (reasonable) opposite side of an argument not being heard...
    • Re:Safety Concerns (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sargent1 (124354) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @12:19PM (#12392473)
      The safety concern was that, if the shuttle had its tiles damaged by foam (or ice from the external tank) so that it couldn't come back to Earth, the shuttle couldn't transfer its orbit to the ISS for safe docking. Instead, NASA would have to send a second shuttle up and try an on-orbit shuttle-to-shuttle dock. That's why the Hubble mission was deemed "more dangerous than any other" -- the "other" missions are to the ISS, which can act as a safe harbor.
      • Re:Safety Concerns (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Overzeetop (214511)
        Thank god we didn't attempt any shuttle missions before there was an ISS. That would have been waaaaaaay to dangerous.
      • How much would it cost, and would it be feaible, to plan to send up a couple of Soyuz capsules in the event that the shuttle can't de-orbit? I'm sure we could make a deal with the Russians. And it would seem do-able to find a way to link up and transfer over to Soyuz capsules. Could they squeeze four people in if they had to?
    • There have been several successful shuttle missions that have serviced the Hubble in the past so there's no reason to think that this particular type of mission is more dangerous than any other.

      I fully support using the STS to service Hubble, but the logic you use to support that position is faulty. Just because you may manage to jaywalk actoss a busy street a few times without getting killed is not evidence that doing so is just as safe as walking on the sidewalk. Another analogy would be that surviving
  • by Tekime (541514) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:39AM (#12392009) Homepage
    I have the distinct feeling most of these astronauts have a clue about the possible dangers. If any of them are that worried, maybe they should have gone to law school instead. Not to diminish the importance of their safety, I just don't see any clear reason why this would be more dangerous than any another manned mission??
    • Agreed. Strapping yourself into a rocket composed of tons of highly explosive fuel carries with it a certain degree of risk.
      After all, its nothing other then a carefully controlled explosion which gets them into space.
      If an astronaut thinks its all of a sudden, dangerous work - then they really shouldnt be in the space program. Astronauts should be mentally competant as well as physically, and I would be extremely suprised if they were not.

      • Sitting down in a tin can, with several gallons of highliy flammable liquid, hurtling down a concrete strip, in close proximity with other, similarly configured tin cans is supposed to be dangerous, too.

        Yet, we do it every day - it's called commute on a motorway...

        Regards, Ulli

        • by pnewhook (788591) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @12:13PM (#12392440)
          Sitting down in a tin can, with several gallons of highliy flammable liquid, hurtling down a concrete strip, in close proximity with other, similarly configured tin cans is supposed to be dangerous, too. Yet, we do it every day - it's called commute on a motorway...

          Yes and in the US (this data is from 2001) there were 37,795 fatalities on the roads due to crashes. There were 16.35 million crashes that year, which gives and average of 2.6 crashes per Km of roadway in the US, and one fatality for every 168Km of roadway.

          Driving a car is dangerous, and if these statistics were posted for any other type of transportation (trains, airplanes, space shuttles) they would be immediatly banned from use.

      • The whole issue brings to mind Alan Shepard's famous joke when asked what he was thinking while waiting for the Redstone to fire off:

        "I was up there looking around, and suddenly I realized I was sitting on top of a rocket built by the lowest bidder."

        They are certainly aware of the dangers and if they didn't accept them they wouldn't be astronauts.

        On the other hand, before they climb to the top of the rocket they strap themselves into a car carrying a hundred pounds or so of highly explosive fuel and take
    • I have the distinct feeling most of these astronauts have a clue about the possible dangers. If any of them are that worried, maybe they should have gone to law school instead.

      The problem isn't the astronauts lives. We could staff a dozen Shuttle flights just with the astronauts on roster, and for each of them, there are over a hundred qualified volunteers.

      The problem is that there are only three Orbiters - essentially irreplaceable pieces of hardware.

      Not to diminish the importance of their safety,

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nicky G (859089) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:42AM (#12392021)
    It's funny just how much of an issue safety has been made in many discussions of a manned service mission. The USA doesn't even give its troops armored vehicles in its war, and that doesn't seem to really rile people up (discussion of the ridiculousness of the war aside). You'd think a little risk to save what has IMO been one of the most profound scientific tools in all of human civilization would be deemed an acceptable risk.
    • How many terrorists can you kill with a space telescope?
      • A decent 50m reflector (big piece of light foil alloy with platinum-wire structure, Bucky Fuller would love it) ought to make a dandy weapon. Not much chance of dodging and if you collated all of that sunlight down to a beam 0.5m across you would be putting about ten megawatts per square meter into your target. For up to several hours at a time.

        The same distributed electronics needed to focus such a disc for astronomy would work just as well for walking it through a terrorist camp or turning a cave hideout
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Detritus (11846) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @04:19PM (#12393627) Homepage
      The USA doesn't even give its troops armored vehicles in its war, and that doesn't seem to really rile people up (discussion of the ridiculousness of the war aside).

      Every vehicle design is a compromise among cost, weight, armor, speed, fuel economy, maintenance requirements, power, cargo capacity, size, etc. The HMMWV [army.mil] replaced a group of unarmored vehicles, including the JEEP. There are lightly armored vehicles for mechanized infantry, like the APC and the Bradley. Their armor will stop small-arms fire and shell fragments, but not projectiles from heavier weapons or anti-tank mines. A modern RPG can penetrate over 500mm of steel. How do you protect a vehicle against that? With dismounted infantry, who are vulnerable to small-arms fire, to provide a protective screen for the vehicle. There are no easy solutions to the problem.

  • Shuttle (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    That piece of garbage.

    I wish we had a stargate, instead. A stargate with which we'd find some Ancient technology and fly around in these cool spaceships. And then I would get to meet this hot chick in uniform, Samantha Carter, and she'd dig me. And we'd have hot sex for hours and hours. She would also make me wear a leash.

    Oh well, man can dream... man can dream.

  • by colonslashslash (762464) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:50AM (#12392057) Homepage
    It's been said many times before here, but we have to take risks if we want to explore and expand in new areas. We are still relatively new to space travel, even getting people into orbit is something that we don't have a great deal of experience with, so of course there are risks and dangers to overcome.

    As a poster above me said, these astronauts are fully aware of what can go wrong, yet they still volunteer themeselves for the job. They have a choice over risking their lives to further the human race, and bravely, they take it. If we, as a species, never took on tasks that involved risks and dangers, we would have progressed nowhere.

    I'm not saying safety issues should be overlooked, or brushed to one side here, it's important we get these people back to Earth safely, but it's also important that we don't let ourselves be held back by fear of what _might_ or _could_ happen.

    The Hubble is arguably one of NASA's greatest missions, and to let it wither and die in space because a previous shuttle mission ended in disaster, would just be foolish in my eyes. I really do hope they do send up a maintanence mission so the Hubble may continue operation, and I wish all those involved the best of luck, you are truely the pioneers of our age.

  • Yeah vs Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jackb_guppy (204733) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:53AM (#12392071)
    It is about time that leadership is showing at NASA.

    We shutdown a system over safty concerns, if that was really true, then get the guys off the space station and shut it all down!

    NASA is about science and the need to know. That is a very human need. NASA is tech that makes up our very jobs. YES, even the check out clerk at your supermarket is using products in the job and life daily that came from NASA fund research and neededs.

    Now we some at the head again that is thinking about "ruuning NASA the science group" not "how to keep his job". Before you shutdown a rescue mission to Hubble (or projects) what are real issues? That is science! Knowing the facts and THEN and ONY THEN MAKING A DISCEDION!

    • Was NASA repsonsible for the spell checker?
    • This is gotta be candidate for worst decision ever.

      We would develop a lot more technology and knowhow by doing the repair robotically, and it would be cheaper as well.

      The next telescopes on the drawing board are all at L2 LaGrangian. They HAVE to be assembed robotically, so we might as well develop the technology on a target close to Earth. That way we know how to do it when the more difficult tasks come up.

  • Is it worth it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordoftheLemmings (773163) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @10:53AM (#12392072)
    Is it really worth sending a shuttle up to fix it? It costs so much to send a shuttle up to do it wouldn't it be cheaper to send up a new one? It seems to me that were going to spend entirely to much money on something that is old obsolete. Why not replace it with something new and better?
    • Is it really worth sending a shuttle up to fix it? It costs so much to send a shuttle up to do it wouldn't it be cheaper to send up a new one? It seems to me that were going to spend entirely to much money on something that is old obsolete. Why not replace it with something new and better?

      Rather than send up a Shuttle to fix the existing telescope, because launching a Shuttle is expensive, you want to build an entirely new telescope and then send a Shuttle up to launch it?

      Could an equivalent space tel

      • There is only the small detail of coming up with the main mirror and other optics. It only takes a minimum of 5 years to cast and grind the necessary mirror.
      • wouldn't it need to be deployed a bit more carefully than could be done through a rocket, i.e. that's why they used a Shuttle for Hubble itself?

        No. My understanding is that the Hubble was designed to be launched and serviced with the Shuttle because the Shuttle was what there was, not because it was a particularly good idea. The United States had already made the political/management decision to retire its heavy launch vehicles, like the Saturn V, in favor of the Shuttle.

        According to the all-powerful

      • Actually launching the shuttle isn't THAT Expensive. Would it surprise you to know that if NASA wanted to add another Shuttle flight for FY 06, it only costs an extra $120million to add to the flight manifest?
    • What is really broke?

      Needs fuel, a few stearing peices of equipment, maybe add a new option or two.

      If that was your car... would you just buy a build a new one becuase it was out of gas and needed new shocks and you wanted to add a new a satilite radio?
      • Re:Is it worth it? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by grozzie2 (698656) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @12:33PM (#12392551)
        If that was your car... would you just buy a build a new one becuase it was out of gas and needed new shocks and you wanted to add a new a satilite radio?

        That would depend entirely on your location. If you car was in the back yard, in the middle of a densly populated area, just down the street from <insert major chain store name here>, probably not. It would be very cost effective to walk to the store, buy the parts, then fix the car.

        OTOH, if your car is located at a research camp, on the icecap at one of the poles, far enough away from 'civilization' that the _only_ way to bring in those spare parts is to fly a ski equipped C-130 3000 miles to deliver the parts, you will rethink the whole thing. The cost of transportation far exceeds the cost of the equipment being transported, by a couple of orders of magnitude. If the C-130 is going to be sent anyways, it may well be more efficient to just load up a new car in the back, and deliver that.

        If one goes on the assumption there is budget for a shuttle trip, then the real question _should be_, what is the appropriate payload to carry? Should it be carrying spare parts for the existing old hubble, or should it be carrying a brand new telescope of some kind. In either case, the 500 million launch budget will be used.

        In the case of hubble, pork politics, and budget line items get in the way. It's really silly, because the arguement to decide if the old one is fixed, or a new one is launched, has nothing to do with final cost, and everything to do with 'which budget does it come from?'. Launching a new modern replacement would entail creating a new mission line item in the budget, a process that's not likely to happen. Fixing the old one would shift funds into an existing line item, a process that may well be able to be pushed thru. The amount of funds in each case doesn't even enter the equation, it's all about what can be achieved politically.

        Dropping 500 million into an existing line item is possible, but creating a new line item instead, with a value of 300 million, not gonna happen. That's how the 'efficiency' of a beaurocracy works, in particular one that's designed to entice voters with financial mumbo-jumbo. Joe congress-critter knows it's cheaper to fix an old car, than to buy a new one, so it's _gotta_ be cheaper to fix hubble than to launch a new telescope.

        The real problem with a system that works this way, it's so damn full of pork. When you sit back and ask 'wheres the beef?', you'll discover, the politicians live an a diet of pork. The congress critters have become so adept at slicing and dicing pork for serving to the constituents, dont think they even remember how to throw some beef on the grille and serve up a steak.

    • Re:Is it worth it? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Soldrinero (789891)
      It is absolutely worth fixing it.

      First off, we can't send up another Hubble for cheap - it has to be designed, built, and launched, all of which is expensive. To maintain the current telescope, all we have to do is launch, and as a fraction of what NASA is already planning to spend on launches, it's pretty cheap.

      Secondly, Hubble is not "obsolete". Every single time it has been serviced, its capabilities have been upgraded with new instrumentation, vastly increasing its sensitivity and usefulness. Hubbl

    • It seems to me that were going to spend entirely to much money on something that is old obsolete. Why not replace it with something new and better?

      IMHO, we should. A copy from an old post of mine:

      Hubble Origins Probe: replace instead of repair?

      Astronomy Magazine reports [astronomy.com] that an international team of astronomers has proposed an alternative [spaceref.com] to sending a robotic or human repair mission to the ailing Hubble Space Telescope [wikipedia.org]. Their proposal is to build a new Hubble Origins Probe [jhu.edu], reusing the Hubble design
  • by localroger (258128) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:01AM (#12392109) Homepage
    You know, we used to understand that space travel was dangerous and that astronauts are not just special because of their training, but because any time you sit atop a thirty meter tall bomb and light it there is a chance you're not gonna make it back in one piece. Props to the guys and gals who are willing to take that chance and all.

    One of the many things I have always disliked about the Shuttle space-car fantasy is the illusion that this risk has somehow gone away and "shuttling off" to space is now no different than catching the subway to work in the morning. It's not that way, and it's never going to be that way with the technology at hand. It takes a massive amount of energy to get into space, and controlling large amounts of energy is always risky whether it's getting into orbit or an ordinary domestic chemical plant.

    Let us understand that space travel is risky as well as expensive. Let us do what we can to minimize those risks. And then give the men and women who are willing to take those risks the tools they need and the opportunity do their damn jobs. Let us mourn when they pay the ultimate price, and let us celebrate when they give us things we never could have had without their sacrifice.

  • by lheal (86013) <lheal1999@yahoo . c om> on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:08AM (#12392145) Journal
    Why don't they get a more powerful telescope on the ground and point it at the Hubble?

    They could fix it from here!

    I'm surprised nobody's thought of this. Maybe those "rocket scientists" aren't so smart after all.
  • by quantaman (517394) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:36AM (#12392257)
    I glanced at the title and read

    NASA Preparing Manned Hubble Service Mission
    as
    NASA Preparing Manned Hubble Secret Mission

    and thought, "gee if they're trying to keep it secret then why are they announcing it on /.?!"
    • gee if they're trying to keep it secret then why are they announcing it on /.?!"

      Easy. Everyone will think it is a dupe of a five year old article. Or simply bullshit.

  • by True Grit (739797) * <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nrubgocwde)> on Saturday April 30, 2005 @11:38AM (#12392266)
    From the article:

    There is no replacement for Hubble's visible-light acuity even in the serious planning stages.

    Sigh. That's because we want to move *beyond* visible light to see farther into the past!

    Its like this: You've got an old Ford Escort, but you've ordered a new supercharged Ford Mustang GT. Since its a custom order, it'll be a few months before it gets to you. Between now and then, does it make any sense to spend money keeping up the Escort, especially when money is tight?

    I'm all for the fascinating pictures we get from Hubble, but the *really* interesting stuff lies in the infrared spectrum, beyond Hubble's sight. That's why IMO, if we can't do both, then we should stop wasting money to keep the Hubble up, and use that money to accelerate its replacement [wikipedia.org].
    • If the Escort is your only transportation in the meantime, absolutely. That's the situation we're in with Hubble.
      • If the Escort is your only transportation in the meantime, absolutely.

        Except that it isn't our only "transportation" now.

        From Hubble's Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org]:

        What complicates the question are the breathtaking advances in Earth-based astronomy since the Hubble was conceived. During the 1970s when Hubble was designed, the conventional wisdom was that ground based telescopes would never have the resolution of space telescopes because the atmospheric seeing limited the resolution of ground telescopes. In fa

    • no, that doesn't make any sense. you should have bought a chevy :)

      There's no reason we "can't" do both, except the short-sightedness of the average american taxpayer or politician. Kind of ironic considering we're talking about telescopes.

    • First, the James Webb Space Telescope is not a replacement for the Hubble. The JWST is designed for IR astronomy; the HST is primarily for UV astronomy. They are complementary, but by no means the JWST is a replacement for the HST.
      • JWST is for IR, although part of the HST's range does go into the UV, it primarily goal was always the visible light spectrum. The Europeans will (or already have?) be putting up a UV ST to handle that spectrum better than the HST can now.

        JWST is designed for IR, because we can see farther into the past in that spectrum. In that sense the JWST was always treated as NASA's follow-on to the HST (always considered by NASA itself as Hubble's replacement, regardless of the scopes working in different spectra)
        • although part of the HST's range does go into the UV, it primarily goal was always the visible light spectrum.

          Sigh. If Lyman Spitzer heard you say something like that, he'd ripped your head out of your body...

          Run the optical tracing based on the specification of the HST. You'll notice that the best optical image of the HST is attained at 2800AA. The original concept of a space telescope was to have a high-spatial/spectral resolution imager/spectrograph in UV and visible light. At least that's what I tho
          • If Lyman Spitzer heard you say something like that, he'd ripped your head out of your body...

            If he's still alive, maybe we should ask him. Given the changes in scope technology since the HST was designed, perhaps his answer would surprise you more than me?

            Not many other professionals would agree with your view

            I understand some professionals don't agree, but as I said earlier, the primary push for space-based scopes was always about seeing distant objects (looking back into time), and since the HST

            • If he's still alive, maybe we should ask him. Given the changes in scope technology since the HST was designed, perhaps his answer would surprise you more than me?

              Not a chance (and he's passed away). But Lyman would agree with me. Or at least his students have.

              Furthermore, you need to check the details of your information more accurately. Ground telescopes with adoptive optics (VLT, Gemini, and Subaru, etc.) do well in the NIR/MIR regime. It's because atmospheric disturbance is more manageable / relative
              • But they can't do that in visual that well. There, the HST has no competition at today's technology [*]

                Any links for this info? Its my understanding that several ground scopes are already exceeding HST's resolution in visible light using interferometry. The problem was difficulty in detecting faint objects, and adaptive optics is now starting to solve that problem. Yes, the Hubble is the only thing out there that can produce those Deep Field images at the moment, but its only a matter of time before n

    • To further butcher your analogy, Imagine that your awesome new ford mustang GT is only capable of driving in cities and on highways. It is incapable of driving on rural roads for some reason or another (clearance?) Your old escort did fine in the rural areas, but wasn't as fast as your new car could be under ideal circumstances.

      The question to ask is: Is deorbit significantly cheaper than reboost and repair. In other words, do not consider the whole cost of the mission to hubble, only the difference bet
      • To further butcher your analogy

        Please, just let my poor analogy Rest In Peace, its taken enough abuse already. :)

        the whole cost of the mission to hubble, only the difference between deorbiting and upgrade/reboost is relevant,

        Its my understanding that NASA is thinking about an unmanned mission to attach external thrusters to provide a controlled reentry. Such a mission would be a lot cheaper than the 500 million it would cost for a manned repair mission, as it wouldn't involve humans or a shuttl

    • You need to mention that the James Webb Space Telescope will be stationed at a Lagrange point, out of reach for manned service missions. Considering that Hubble needed to be serviced in order to function properly, the JWST is a great if it works, but it's not guaranteed to work. If I were NASA, I'd rather risk having to sustain two working space telescopes than having none and no budget for another try.
      • Repair missions were always part of Hubble's plan from the beginning. What complicated everything were the 2 shuttle tragedies, and the subsequent escalation of cost in operating the remaining shuttles (and the first repair mission occurring much earlier than planned because of the mirror fubar).

        The JWST, like the Spitzer Telescope(*) that's already up there (and producing fantastic images - search for its website) will be designed with redundancy in mind as its now obvious that repair missions can't be c
  • by voss (52565) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @12:55PM (#12392644)
    $100 billion dollar space station.

    While Infrared light may generate alternate avenues of science, humans dont see in infrared. Hubble produces space results that Joe Sixpack can actually see or have his kids download for their school projects. Thats how NASA can get funding, produce results people can see and can benefit from.

    The hubble telescope fires the imagination and inspires future generations of scientists. Hubble cost $2 billion to put up and only cost $500 million to service. Why not make the most of your investment.

    Someone has sold us a myth that average people dont care about space exploration. This is bullcrap. They care when they feel like they are a part
    of it. When they feel like NASA is just another government agency squandering money on stuff they dont understand, thats when NASA gets hacked.

    • While Infrared light may generate alternate avenues of science, humans dont see in infrared.

      Did you really think all those Hubble images were raw images fresh from the scope? No they were all computer enhanced, just like the [caltech.edu] IR [caltech.edu] images [caltech.edu] from [caltech.edu] IR [caltech.edu] scopes [caltech.edu] are [caltech.edu].

      HUMANS DON'T NEED TO SEE IN INFRARED, ONLY THE SCOPE DOES. jeesh.

      PS: It's not an "alternative avenue", its the primary avenue where most scientists want to go anyway.

      • How many kids have an infrared scope at home? I bet not many. Now how many kids have visible light telescopes at home? Maybe they dont get as good an image as the hubble, but people can relate to the hubble telescope in a way they cant relate to infrared telescopes.
      • Exactly and MOD PARENT UP!!!

        There are many pictures that are taken at a lot of frequencies from a number of different platforms. SOHO takes awsome pictures of the Sun that the human eye cannot see. Kids could care less what frequency of light creates the immage. If a pic is cool then a pic is cool.
    • The hubble has generated more science than the $100 billion dollar space station.

      This should surprise no one who actually stops and thinks for a few moments. Hubble is complete and (more or less) operational. (And has itself cost a fair number of billions.) Three-quarters of the ISS is still here on the ground. Nobody claims that a new particle accelerator has produced no science when the tunnel is complete but the accelerator itself has yet to be installed. Why is the ISS a source of complaints

  • by SaveHubble (875949) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @01:16PM (#12392739)
    I've posted about this topic before (here: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=146007 &cid=12230905 [slashdot.org], and here: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=146007 &cid=12232506 [slashdot.org])

    There are several important factors in deciding between them. Lets look at the pros and cons.

    Cost:

    1. Shuttle servicing will cost about $300M to fly the mission plus ~$1.5B-2B to keep the shuttle program and staff going for an extra 4-6 months. Total cost then is conservatively $2.3B.

    2. Robotic Deorbit Only is estimated to cost about $850M, for development, launch, and operation of the vehicle.

    3. Robotic servicing is expected to cost $1.4B for dev, launch, and operation through splashdown.

    However(!) if we take option 1 or 2, we'll have to fly a 'robotic proving' mission around 2015 or so to enable missions to Moon and Mars. This could cost anywhere from $500-800M (likely closer to 800 if it's to be at all ambitious). So lets look at the total score-card:

    Shuttle: $2.3B + $800M = $3.1 Billion
    Deorbit: $850M + $800M = $1.65 Billion
    Robotic: $1.4B - ~250M already spent = $1.15 Billion

    So that was cost. Now lets look at education:

    Doing another shuttle servicing mission will teach us very little. Sure, we'd learn some EVA techniques, management techniques, things like that. But nothing significant. That's why we'd need to launch a robotic proving mission in 2015.

    Robotic Deorbit would teach us a lot about autonomous rendezvous (since my last post it's apparent that we need to work a little harder on that; DART bumped into its target, I hear). Bear in mind that craft had no forward-link commanding from the ground... it was entirely autonomous. It cost only $100-something million to dev, launch and "operate". These are lessons we need to learn to go to the Moon, and Mars.

    Robotic Servicing would teach us a lot about the autonomous rendezvous and proximity operations (see above) since it's the same problem here as the robotic deorbit. It will also teach us a HUGE amount about ground-to-space tele-robotic operations. So much so that if it works we could be confident enough not to need an expensive proving mission later on. We'll be doing complex robotic tasks on things that were designed for humans (on space-station, everything's designed to be robot-friendly). We'll be pushing the envelope of our knowledge.

    Don't let that put you off though. We're pushing the envelope on the ground here, right now. We've pushed it so far now that most tasks on the Hubble robotic mission will be trivial. We aim to push it far enough that ALL tasks will be trivial (or at most 'complex') by the time we launch. We have a robust capacity to re-plan and re-approach a problem on orbit. We have the advantage of time (see next pro/con) on our side. And we have contingency in case some more critical item fails before we launch. I believe that up to 30 days before launch we have the ability to re-manifest the cargo. Don't quote me on that figure though.

    Now lets look at perhaps the most important feature of each mission: The quality of the result:

    Some say a shuttle servicing mission will do a better job at servicing Hubble. This used to be the case. In looking at the robotic mission we had to give up some things. The STIS failed last summer, as some of you may remember. The robotics guys evaluated that task, and decided it would be too difficult. Many bolts in hard-to-reach places, etc. So that was dropped. However, I've recently heard on the wind that a Shuttle mission will only have a few days of EVA available between tile inspection and prep for landing. The shuttle mission will be forced to leave things out too, and the result is that the priorities we identified for the robotic mission are pretty much the same priorities we'd have for the sh
    • "1. Shuttle servicing will cost about $300M to fly the mission plus ~$1.5B-2B to keep the shuttle program and staff going for an extra 4-6 months. Total cost then is conservatively $2.3B."

      Wrong, it costs them about $120million to add another shuttle flight to the launch manifest(this was pre columbia though :/)

      Also, about 1/4 of the shuttle programs costs are from Astronaut training.
      • this was pre columbia though

        Bingo. The last estimate I saw when searching earlier says the cost for a manned repair mission is $500 million now.

        NASA doesn't intend to bring any shuttle down again without an external inspection of their wing surfaces before reentry. From now on their intent is to dock with the ISS, inspect the shuttle exterior then undock and deorbit. Servicing the Hubble now requires a trip to the ISS and unfortunately those two are too far apart for that to happen (unless NASA ch

    • I've posted about this topic before.

      Yes, you did. And in the meantime one of your most important steps (DART) has failed.

      Don't let that put you off though. We're pushing the envelope [of robotic technology] on the ground here, right now. We've pushed it so far now that most tasks on the Hubble robotic mission will be trivial.

      It's fascinating that NASA has developed robotic technology decades ahead of everyone else, and have managed to keep it completely under wraps.

      Some say a shuttle servicing mi

  • They keep changing their attitude towards Hubble's fate.
  • Instead of spending billions of dollars on hardware to try and eliminate the risk of manned space flight, bring back go fever and pay astronauts ten million dollars a flight. Yes, safety might even drop - you might to get a 1-50 margin. But, astronauts would be paid for work commensurate with the risk. Accept that some astronauts can and will be killed and pay them to take that risk. Instead of trying to engineer to prevent every conceivable disaster - there are just too many, engineer to the best you can
  • So much for massively overhauling NASA after an accident to focus on lofty goals. Now they're back to taking unnecessary risks on projects which have extremely small value. Never mind it would cost less and be less risky to put a brand new telescope in orbit or that their ambivalence to disasters has grown as their disasters have increased in number.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

Working...