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No Money For Hubble Service Mission 401

starexplorer writes " is reporting that the White House has eliminated funding for servicing the Hubble Space Telescope from its 2006 budget request. After many options 1, 2 were explored, is this the death knell for Hubble?"
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No Money For Hubble Service Mission

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  • Hubble on eBay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stecoop ( 759508 ) * on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:52PM (#11436319) Journal
    So if there isn't money for Hubble than auction it off as surplus - let free market pick it up if they want to.
    • by connah0047 ( 850585 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:59PM (#11436413)
      Yeah, put it on EBay for an auction. Mark it as "Will not ship, must pick up."
    • That brings up an important question. Can parts of hubble be run without sending up a service rocket? Say we do not service it but try to keep using it, what would go wrong?

      any company can start taking ground photos etc from hubble and make things profitable.

      would be fun to buy space junk and run linux on their CPUs.....
      • Re:Hubble on eBay (Score:5, Informative)

        by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:07PM (#11436519) Homepage Journal
        As soon as it gets to the point where it becomes a re-entry risk (which happens when only one gyro remains functional), NASA will drop it into the Pacific. They don't want to risk an unplanned, uncontrolled descent that may put it in the middle of a population area.
        • Re:Hubble on eBay (Score:5, Interesting)

          by GammaRay Rob ( 452271 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:30PM (#11436795)
          As soon as it gets to the point where it becomes a re-entry risk (which happens when only one gyro remains functional), NASA will drop it into the Pacific. They don't want to risk an unplanned, uncontrolled descent that may put it in the middle of a population area.

          Except, of course, it currently has no de-orbit capability, hence the plan to go there and add it. But, if you already have to go there...
    • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:06PM (#11436515) Journal
      The ESA would certainly be interested. The Chinese and Japanese might take an interest as well.
    • by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) * on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:11PM (#11436571)

      Yeah, and as long as we can end the auction before the next gyro goes out, we can even provide free delivery with a controlled de-orbit...

    • Re:Hubble on eBay (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ericzundel ( 524648 ) * on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:23PM (#11436716) Homepage Journal
      I don't think NASA is holding anyone back from volunteering to go up and fix Hubble. If there were some huge benefit to doing that, I think you might hear some volunteers out there.

      NASA calculated that that servicing mission,whether robotic or shuttle, would cost over one billion dollars US. The only "market" that could pick up that kind of tab (or anything close to it) would be the Japanese or European space agencies. Private companies have a hard time just getting a sattelite into orbit. The Russians might have the technology, but they could not realistically fund the mission.

      According to This source [], the total annual budget for the ESA is 2.7 billion Euros. The Japanese budget according to This source [] was around 1.3 billion US Dollars in 1998. So we are talking about asking them to take on a project that would cost them between 30% to 80% of their total annual space budget.

      The probability of success of a robotics mission is IMHO extremely low. You would be hard pressed to build a robot that could service hubble if it was sitting on the ground, much less orbiting in zero G in the cold of space.

      Assuming the Japanese and Europeans decided they wanted to pool resources and take on this relatively huge project, then farm it out to the Russians for the launch platform and manned mission (because they are the only ones that have that technology), what would be the end result? Another 5 years or so of science. (remember, we have a new telescope that will be online 5 years or so after Hubble goes dark.) The rewards just don't seem to be worth the effort.

      I love the science as much as anyone, but for the most part, the great view of the universe from space isn't going away. It will still be there in 5 years, or 10 years, or however long it takes us to get the next great telescope into space.

  • Death for Hubble? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lecithin ( 745575 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:53PM (#11436336)
    "directed NASA to focus solely on de-orbiting the popular spacecraft "

    Well, if we count on the government to fund Hubble, yes.

    Perhaps a private party will either donate, or advertise.

    This cosmic picture was brought to you by Budwiser.
    • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:07PM (#11436520) Homepage Journal
      Private funding? This is the same level of thinking that caused the problem that killed Hubble, and one of the main reasons America is so quickly falling behind in so many fields of scientific research. There are some things that private enterprise and free markets are very good at, but long-term scientific research is NOT one of them. (The other reason is religious fanaticism directed against science because of the unpleasant truths it persists in revealing.)

      Significant research is very risky and rarely profitable--and never reliably profitable in the way that normal business investments are. Yes, there are enormous long-term benefits, but the current CEO will have cashed out all of his stock dividends a long time before major research produces any results. There is a fundamental mismatch between the long-term perspective of pure research and the short-term perspective of a business that will have to show its profit numbers to the SEC at the next quarter--at which time the investors will sell their shares if that company is "wasting too much money" on research.

      America is becoming the land of the ignorant. Proud, boastful, even aggressive ignorance.

      • The other reason is religious fanaticism directed against science because of the unpleasant truths it persists in revealing.

        I think it's worse than that. From my perspective (I'm in catholic Italy) there was really no need for the church to go back to challenge scientific discoveries. In fact the Pope is fighting for what is seen as unethical research on human cloning and so on, but doesn't challenge Darwinism, for example. On the other hand, IIRC, one minister tried to remove Darwin from teaching progr
    • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:18PM (#11436641) Homepage
      Or, alternatively, count on Congress.

      The President only requests money. Congress allocates is. They've overriden this president many times regarding NASA's budget. (The White House has tried to kill the New Horizons mission to Pluto on at least one occasion. Congress put the money back.)

      This isn't the end of HST. That doesn't really depend on Bush, that depends on Congress.
      • Re:Death for Hubble? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:30PM (#11436801)
        Since nobody else here seemed to RTFA...

        NASA has not yet informed key congressional committees with jurisdiction over the space agency. But congressional sources told Space News they had been hearing since late last week that significant changes were afoot for Hubble.

        These same sources, however, said they had not ruled out that the White House and NASA might be canceling the Hubble servicing mission as the opening gambit in the annual struggle that goes on every budget year, fully expecting that Congress will add money to the agency's budget over the course of the year to pay for a mission that has strong public support.
        In other words, this could just be a gambit to drum up support and funding from congress.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    pitched it to Bush as a way to finally find those missing WMDs, the administration would have spent billions on it....
    • Why the hell is it modded as a Troll?

      He was right on the spot.

      The current RNC admin spends $150+ billions on a crusade to conduct a democracy-for-oil campaign and caused the death of 1500 young soldiers, but can't spend $10 million on HST?

      Come On !!! You, Mr.Moderator, are a f*ckin' Rep.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Erm, who cares about the 1500 soldiers who willfully invade another country? The 150.000 killed Iraqis (pretty much an accepted estimation) - that's the big issue.
        • I'm with you to an extent, but, 150,000 is certainly not the accepted number. As much as I like Howard Zinn, don't do what he did on the Daily Show and give such a high number you lose your credablity. The Lancet said 100,000, and that is the highest estimate out there. Many people believe it is probobly less than that.
          • No, losing credibility isn't the worst thing he did. Announcing that 100,000 had dies was the BEST thing that could have happened to the RNC. After his ridiculously inflated number had been paraded around, the White House released the real number (15,000 I think?) and the nation breathed a sigh of relief that so few had died.

            It had about the same effect as the CBS faked memo - it completely destroyed the public's ability to care about a valid issue.
      • The current RNC admin spends $150+ billions on a crusade to conduct a democracy-for-oil campaign
        That's an interesting idea.

        If Bush wanted Iraqs oil on the American market, why not just rattle the saber, get inspectors in Iraq for a bit, doing some intensive inspections (which they did, for a bit), and then declare Iraq a repaired nation, no WMDs, and ask the UN to lift sanctions? That would release all of Iraq's production into the market and depress prices. The whole thing would take, ohh, maybe si
  • by spikeham ( 324079 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:54PM (#11436350)
    All this discussion of saving the Hubble seems to ignore an obvious solution. Just launch a completely new, improved orbiting observatory. Hubble is nearing the end of its lifespan even if it is serviced. A replacement might not cost a lot more than a servicing mission and would involve zero risk.
    • by FrYGuY101 ( 770432 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:00PM (#11436433) Journal
      The James Webb Space Telescope [] is scheduled to fly in 2011.

      The problem arises from the fact that Hubble will die without servicing before then.
    • seems to ignore an obvious solution

      Yep. I guess not being on the CC for every NASA Hubble memo & report might just leave us out of the loop on some parts of NASA internal discussions. Not surprising.

      You don't think that perhaps, "Lauch a new one," was their first choice, and the maintenance requests were initiated because it was the cheaper, easier, more reliable, and more likely to get approved option?

      would involve zero risk.

      You mean, "except for total loss due to [insert unrecoverable failur
    • Launching a new telescope has no risks? I suppose then instead of fixing bugs in applications we should just rewrite them completely. After all, nothing EVER goes wrong in a newly designed system.

      Meanwhile, as many people have said, the James Webb telescope is the closest to being launched, and it won't show up until well after Hubble is dead. Even so, it is designed to "see" a completely different set of the spectrum than Hubble, so it's not a replacement at all, more of a supplement.

      Bush 2004 - Limiting
    • From NASA's hubble site:

      Hubble was originally designed in the 1970s and launched in 1990. Thanks to on-orbit service calls by the Space Shuttle astronauts, Hubble continues to be a state-of-the-art space telescope.

      I agree that launching a new one is probably the best option. Although a new telescope is probably much more expensive than repairing the hubble, it was designed in the 70's for god's sake and you can only upgrade something so far before you start hitting some pretty hard limits.

      Considering ho

    • Re:hubble double (Score:4, Informative)

      by mattorb ( 109142 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @07:05PM (#11437127)
      A few people have suggested launching something very similar to HST, with the new instrumentation that was supposed to go up in servicing mission 4. One such proposal is the "Hubble Origins Probe"; they had a poster at the last American Astronomical Society meeting, the abstract of which you can read here [].

      That abstract begins, "A no-new-technology HST-class observatory with COS and WFC3 as its core instruments ..." (COS and WF3 are the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and new Wide-Field Camera, respectively.)

      There's also a brief article about this [] at New Scientist.

      I'm not crazy about this idea, for a bunch of reasons, but it is under active investigation.

    • by Angelworm ( 852194 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @09:18PM (#11438051)
      Hubble Origins Probe, a rebuild of Hubble with modern technology on a expendible launch, will cost only $750M - $1000 according to the following report. astro/Colin%20HOP_final_noBudget.pdf

      • Exactly! The "Save Hubble!" cry is originating largely from a population that just loves those cool-looking pictures that they can use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers.

        If you rationally look for the best way to spend a billion dollars to aid astronomical research, HOP is a much better bet - you get a slighly newer and more capable satellite made mostly with proven techology and which has a longer expected life-span than the aging Hubble. And you don't risk human lives by launching a space shuttle to
  • Cheaper? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by ericdano ( 113424 )
    Would it be cheaper to just build something newer and better than to try to keep the Hubble up there?
    • Re:Cheaper? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Cost of maintenance: $600M-$800M

      Cost of Hubble in 1990 dollars: $1.5B

      Cost of Hubble in 2004 dollars: $2.2B

      That doesn't include launch costs. It would also probably take ~10 years to plan and build.
  • Wha? (Score:4, Funny)

    by metalhed77 ( 250273 ) <andrewvc@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:56PM (#11436366) Homepage
    Can't they just stop off on the way to mars?
  • by tekiegreg ( 674773 ) * <> on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:56PM (#11436374) Homepage Journal
    Bush: "We must further our ambitions in space"...or something like that anyways

    Now I see this posted... Now admittedly 1 billion is a pretty big price to save Hubble (would probably be more practical just to send up a new one) but is there a newer one in the near Horizon even?

    Politics and space mix badly...but then again what else is new...
  • Crash it... (Score:4, Funny)

    by connah0047 ( 850585 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:57PM (#11436389)
    Crash it like they did the Mir...then I can put my blender up on EBay as set it for hundreds as "Hubble Debris".
  • will include some money for a mission to attach a propulsion module to Hubble needed to safely de-orbit the spacecraft with a controlled re-entry into the Pacific Ocean.

    Anyone know why such a module wasn't installed as part of the original contruction? Wouldn't it have been a wise precautionary measure to put something like this on just in case?
    • My understanding is that they had planned to bring it back to Earth in one of the shuttles and place the HST in the Smithsonian. But that's no longer an option, I understand.
    • by Rob Carr ( 780861 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:11PM (#11436563) Homepage Journal
      There were quite a few plans for Hubble originally, including the possibility of bringing it back to Earth or having a shuttle give it a nudge to deorbit it.

      After the Challenger disaster, plans to bring the Hubble back were dropped. Landing the shuttle with that much weight was found to be too risky.

      After the Columbia accident, going to Hubble to repair it or deorbit it with a space shuttle was found to be too risky.

      The Hubble was designed back when the shuttles were believed to be far more robust and expected to have a bit more carrying capacity. Going from the drawing board to a flight-worthy vehicle with a design that managed to be both revolutionary and out-of-date resulted in some difficult problems.

      Eventually (as the Estes catalogs taught us in the late '60s) reusable is the way to go. But with the current state of engineering and finances, the Russians are doing a lot better with big, dumb, reliable, mass-produced single-use vehicles.

      We desperately need a new space vehicle system that's safe, versitile, and cheap in terms of the cost of kg. to orbit. The new system is doable engineering wise, but probably dead politically.

      • The space shuttles were a disappointment from the word go. They certainly didn't fill the initial desire for a a reusable launch vehicle, and were always a kludgy affair. There was also some politics involved, congressmen getting padding by having components built in their districts and such.
    • Original plans were to bring it back in the shuttle's cargo bay for display in the Smithsonian Museum. No one knew the shuttle program was going to have so many problems.
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:57PM (#11436396)
    Things like this will continue to happen so long as space use and exploration in general does not capture the public's fascination.

    I'm an avid supporter of all things space-related (paying member of Planetary Society, etc) but I find most articles written about the Hubble telescope and space in general pretty boring. Until someone inspires the world with a lofty goal that will push technology or knowledge forward significantly, I think you can expect this type of stagnation or actual devolution.
    • Simply taking pretty pictures of a galaxy far far away, or prolaiming the discovery of star 23525f-9 in galaxy LZ21R isn't enough to justify the expense in most people's minds.
    • Except that HST has been one of NASA's most wildly popular missions ever. Probably more popular than, say, Cassini. Or MESSANGER, Deep Impact, or Rosetta. It's only rivals from the current era are the Mars rovers.

      Be careful about generalizing your likes and dislikes to the rest of the world.
  • by St.Anne ( 651391 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:59PM (#11436410)
    *ring* *ring* "Hello, Energiya?" "It's the wealthy ingrates." "Huh? No, America not France." "We've got the 100 million, you want it in dollars or *heheh* euros?" "What!?! France bought all Soyuz missions for the next ten years?" "Go ask Chirac? Yeah, very funny."
  • Maybe it'll crash on me so I won't have to worry about Social Security.
  • Priorities (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 )
    The savings will cover the cost of about 5 days of war in Iraq.
    • Re:Priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrn121 ( 673604 )
      They shut down one segment of one program that geeks like, and all I read is a lot of grumbling about how if we can spend zillions on Iraq, why not ONE BILLION MORE on the Hubble?

      Turn it around and say that the President decided to spend one billion on some program that you don't personally have any interest in, and all of a sudden it would be "Why spend a billion on that when there is a war going on in Iraq?"

      Stop using both sides of the same arguement to bitch about the war. You don't support the war --

      • You seem to be the one with an agenda that can't be switched off. All I did was compare. You drew the value judgement, maybe someone else will draw a different one. I remain neutral.
    • I think it might be more directly relevant to compare it to the waste of the latest incarnation of Star Wars. However, you're right that it's a matter of incorrect priorities. Well, actually "incorrect" isn't the proper word there, but I can't think of any word that comes close to capturing the badness of Dubya's non-leadership. Perhaps a string of profanity would at least express some of the emotional level?
      • Yeah a ton of money is being pissed away on Star Wars. I have an eccentric theory about that program. They should open it up to a DARPA contest. Sure, they'll get a million non-working entries, but I bet they'd get a couple of decent ones too. The kinds of guidance and tracking systems needed are well within the reach of the well-funded amateur or small company. The kill weapons aren't, but at least you get two legs of the triad. And it's essentially free, even if you make the prize $100 million or an
    • The savings will cover the cost of about 5 days of war in Iraq.

      An Excellent point. Let's go a little furhter: why waste a large orbiting mass? Perhaps NASA can arrange to de-orbit it into a terrorist training camp or something. That should save us the cost of a cruse missile or two.
    • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:50PM (#11436997) Journal
      In case you hadn't hear, we already won that war, and currently we're having a great deal of success with our peacekeeping efforts. In fact, there's going to be free elections in Iraq in less than two weeks.

      Maybe you were thinking of the cost of the upcoming war with Iran, but I have it on good authority that it's going to be a cake walk, and our soldiers will be greeted as liberators.
  • by af_robot ( 553885 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:03PM (#11436472)
    Last time Taco Bell promised a free vouchers for everyone if MIR hits a floating target.
    NASA, PLEASE, don't miss the bulls eye now! I want my free burrito!
  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:05PM (#11436494)
    It's too good a technology to waste.

    And, no doubt, if we just leave it up there the Chinese and/or the EU will most certainly claim salvage rights and send up a repair crew.

    The Chinese would claim it, if for no other reason than to make clear to the world what is becoming increasingly obvious: the USA lacks the desire (funds?) to maintain its status as a space faring nation and is being replaced by China as the space faring super power.
  • Money? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by heptapod ( 243146 )
    Of course there isn't any money. How else is NASA going to develop the James Webb Telescope []? The Hubble's expected to last until 2009 and there would only be a two year gap between its failure, de-orbiting or return to earth on a shuttle. I'm sure Astronomy Picture of the Day [] will do fine in those intervening years.
  • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:12PM (#11436582)
    University of Arizona is building the Large Binocular Telescope [ []], with with a pair of mirrors each 8.4 meters (25 feet) in diameter. The light gathering power and sharpness are both supposed to put Hubble to shame [ see rtelescopes.shtml []] using adaptive optics to remove the atmospheric blurring. It's a lot cheaper than Hubble, and while being ground-based has limitations, having it on the ground will make it much easier to repair and upgrade.
  • Even though Nasa got a budget boost this coming year, they have a new set of priorities and things will change as a result - that's what a change in direction means.

    As others have said, $1 billion for the repair is an awful lot to spend when it does not further the advance of manned missions beyond earth. Personally I am sad to loose hubble, but generally like the new direction the space program is taking.
  • "No bucks, no Buck Rogers"
  • Could this be ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PineHall ( 206441 )
    a calculated ploy to get more money from Congress? If this popular item was included, other items would have been cut when Congress reduces again the NASA budget. This way this item will be added and perhaps fewer items will be cut. It increases the value of the items in the budget. In the end NASA could end up with more money than if it would have been included.
  • The White House zero-budgets the agencies it hates almost every year. This includes almost everything environmental: EPA, NOAA (and its Dept. Commerce parent), a good part of the USGS, any NASA environmental satellites, and more. Then Congress usually restores these items. Until the President gets a line item veto, it has to stake the whole appropiations bill. Bush has never vetoed a bill yet.
  • Maybe when they find out that no one is doing anything useful on the space station and that you don't need a base on the moon to go to mars, then they will repair Hubble out of the billions saved. Then, they might also decide that invading another country is a better idea. Hey, I know! Why not present Hubble as "a tool to invade the privacy of terrorists who might hide in other solar systems". That might just work!!
  • by Biff Stu ( 654099 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:24PM (#11436733)

    In the end, the bugetary decisions are up to Congress. They have the power to restore the Hubble funding to the budget.
  • Supernova 1987A (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rob Carr ( 780861 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:25PM (#11436744) Homepage Journal
    Hubble has been crucial in imaging [] Supernova 1987A []. We have an astonishing volume of data from the Hubble as we follow the sequence as this progresses in the Greater Magellenic Cloud. If Hubble is lost without any replacement, we will lose a rare opportunity to image a supernova this close.
  • That way we can kill two birds with one stone, and save twice as much money for the next space telescope.
  • Pathetic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:26PM (#11436752) Journal
    Cut the funding to the orbiting pile of crap the ISS and put it into Hubble, an orbital piece of technology that does something useful. If Hubble isn't repaired then we are going to lose one of the most useful cosmological tools available for many years to come.
  • by seibed ( 30057 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:27PM (#11436764)
    We can't hack Hubble now and yet it was one year ago last week that his plan to go to Mars was in the news? talk about flip-flopping... geez. stm []
  • Then this is the finale for a project that showed us a universe we never knew existed and smashed preconceived notions of the nature of our existence. Time and time again, the HST has delivered evidence of things that once bordered on fiction. Its photographs have confounded our greatest minds and inspired our youngest ones. Far be it from me to say what the telescope is worth in dollars and cents, but it has to be worth more than this because in all other respects it is absolutely priceless. Discoveries i
  • by caffeine_monkey ( 576033 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:33PM (#11436826)
    The Bush administration is trying to kill science and turn the US into a theocracy. Religion keeps people opiated; science teaches them to ask questions, and is therefore incompatible with their autocratic goals.
  • Someone post a list of the corporate sponsors for the inauguration, then boycott their products/services until they agree to pay the same amount to fund a Hubble rescue operation.
  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:41PM (#11436905) Homepage
    Bush wants the US to push towards mars (or at least that's what he claims to want).

    But in the process, lets scrap perhaps the most successful space venture in human history.

    Hubble has been the greatest achievement in NASA's history. Far from the high profile Moon Landing. but it's the better achievement:

    1. Has made millions interested in space, and sciences through it's absolutely breathtaking images.
    2. One of the greatest feats of engineering servicing that thing.
    3. It's been reliable and usable for YEARS

    IMHO it more than earned a repair, and an upgrade.

    It's been NASA's true achievement. The mars rovers have been great, they did a lot. But nothing has outperformed like Hubble.
  • by David Ishee ( 6015 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:47PM (#11436966) Homepage
    How about putting a PayPal donation button on their homepage?

    (just kidding)

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"