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Discovery Launched, Hubble to be repaired soon 109

lonedfx writes "After nine delays, STS 103 has launched and its crew should service the Hubble space telescope in the next few days. Hopefully Hubble will be soon back to give us great pictures to stare at. "
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Discovery Launched, Hubble to be repaired soon

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  • We just better hope it's dealt with quickly, I for one don't trust the shuttle to be in the air in 11 days time. It's just reminds me of the threat of Skylab.
  • Does anyone know if the sort of problems the Hubble is having are "routine" or if this was a problem inherent in the design of the telescope? It seems (and maybe I'm just too influenced by the media) that this project has been beset by problems from the very start. Too bad too...its images are breathtaking.

  • They can use the repaired telescope to look for debris on Mars fom you-know-what :-)

  • With all the delays that Discovery and the rest of the shuttles have been experiencing, I think it may be time to retire the shuttles in favor of a newer design.
  • Under the link to the crew is a list of what they're having to eat. It seems that Curtis Brown is having Rehydratable Shrimp Cocktails [nasa.gov] for both lunch and dinner today! Must be nice. :)

    After reading these menus, I'm pretty hungry... I think I'll go grab a donut. :^)

  • The design was fine, the implementation was FUBAR.

    The problem with the Gyros is my personal favorite. The gyros are powered by a bunch of wires which spin in a liquid. When the liquid was injected into the current batch of gyros, they used Air.

    As we all know, Air contains O2. O2 corrodes. The wires corrode, break off, Gyro stops.

    For the new ones, they used Nitrogen so we shouldn't have these problems in the future.

    I'll try to dig up the link with this info, but I should be working!
  • Does anyone know if the sort of problems the Hubble is having are "routine"
    Yeah; they're routine. The telescope was designed to be upgradable and reparable, and the gyroscopes -- the main problem -- have lasted longer than was originally anticipated.
    It was never a question of if the gyroscopes would fail, but when.

    As for beset by problems: okay, the focus thing when it first went up was unfortunate and expensive, but since then, its problems were those of any satellite with a shitload of different technologies aboard. Its original aim -- to spot extra solor planets -- has never been achieved, but it's been a stunning success in every other regard.
  • I for one don't trust the shuttle to be in the air in 11 days time.

    Don't worry, neither does NASA. They said they'd cut one "EVA" (spacewalk) which would have covered some peeling paint(!) on rails around the telescope, in order to get back in time for Y2K. They're concentrating on replacing the 6 gyroscopes this time, according to the local talking heads on TV.

    I saw the launch live last night (I live in Melbourne, FL) and it was lovely. No matter how you feel about the government's space program (I'm ambivalent-to-negative on it, much as I'm a fan of space exploration in general) a night launch from the Cape is a beautiful sight.
    JMR
  • Nah, They said "We hope to have you back before the new millenium" Not "You must be back before the Y2K bug strikes discovery.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Mike broke the Hubble, Mike broke the Hubble"

    -MST3k (The Movie)
  • Yeah all the coverage makes it sound like the thing is falling apart. These reporters must be of the mind that when you buy a car, it's already got oil in it, why would you have to change it? Just wastes more of my/taxpayers money. Chuckleheads...
  • The big secret that nobody at NASA wants to tell anyone is that it wasn't really the Gyroscopes that failed. Some technician dropped his ham sandwich into the optical relay and ever since launch the cheese in it has been heating up and cooling down, thus forming a thin layer of cheese across the mirror. This is why we get all those stunning colorful shots with a yellow tint. The observatories were obviously annoyed so they sent up the shuttle to recover the ham sandwich.
  • Pity none with equal capabilities is available right now or even in sight... Even without a requirement for cutting launch costs!

    What about Rotary Rocket [rotaryrocket.com] ?

  • ...openning the wrong champaign and killing us all.

    -Ben
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 1999 @03:46AM (#1459795)
    "Except that I read somewhere that, unofficially, the shuttles' software has never been able to handle a year change correctly, anyway..." You are right, the software cannot handle a year-end rollover. The navigation routines that tell the orbiter where to de-orbit perform their calculations in the M50 (Mean of Aries 1950) coordinate system. This system is an inertial coordinate system, which means that it is referenced to a fixed point in space. Now, in order to deorbit into the right window, we need to tell the orbiter how the earth is positioned within this inertial reference frame. To accomplish this we need to use a Rotation Nutation Precession (RNP) matrix to transform the orbiter's position in M50 coordinates to a position in Earth Centered Earth Fixed (ECEF) coordinates. The RNP matrices are computed on the ground for various times during the year and each are only good for about 3-months on either side of their designed time. If a launch slips over the year end, the RNP matrix is no longer any good, no matter how stale it is (1 day or 1 month or [1 year - 1 hour]). The good news is that we have now designed an improvement to the flight software that calculates the RNP matrix on-board. This would be able to get us out of this predicament, but I would venture to guess that the program still would never have a mission that would cross the year-end boundary in orbit. Actually, we could probably get out of it by patching a new RNP while in orbit, but that is a risk that the program is most likely unwilling to take. - These views are mine and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
  • Hope all those embedded systems on hubble are Y2K-compliant, and more importantly that the shuttle is. "Houston, we have a problem: the coffee machine won't turn on". "Damn.. CHECK 197! CHECK 197!" *cackle*
  • by Christopher Neufeld ( 118052 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @03:48AM (#1459797) Homepage
    That's a Galileo project picture. Some Hubble shots are available at http://marvel.stsci.edu/top.html [stsci.edu].
  • Odd... it seems to me that every time I turn around, Hubble has broken again... are we attacking the symptoms here or the disease, so to speak?
    -Neux
  • Someone please give this an "informative" or two.
    --
    The Karma Century Club is taking new members.
  • Unfortunately with NASA's budget cuts, this probably isn't going to happen for a while.

    I for one would love to see a revamped shuttle design - one that is not only cheaper to get up into space, but that doesn't need such excessive maintenance to keep it in top shape. It just doesn't fit into the "Faster, Better, Cheaper" philosophy that NASA has had to undertake due to budget cuts.

    NASA no longer can "look to the future" - they're stuck in the NOW. Maybe it's a symptom of our Corporatist society that we as a society don't seem to value research and discovery as much as we used to - instead, what gets the high marks is "results". (note that the generic Slashdot reader probably differs from this greatly - but we're talking about society as a whole, not an enlightened few)

    The have the shuttles NOW - all the time and research they would need to do to revamp the design will instead be spent on getting "results" (IE: putting commercial and military sattelites into orbit, and repairing faulty equipment like the Hubble).

    Not that "results" are a bad thing - just that the over-focus on them, and the lack of funding, seem to have stymied the research and discovery arm of NASA that would give us improvements such as a new shuttle design.

    Of course, I could be completely off base here.
    (yes, I realize I'm ranting - probably due to lack of sleep)
  • by Tau Zero ( 75868 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @03:59AM (#1459802) Journal
    Its original aim -- to spot extra solor planets
    BZZZT!Sorry, but thanks for playing.The biggest original purpose of the Hubble Space Telescope was to determine the value of the Hubble Constant by calculating the luminosity of Cepheid variable stars in galaxies too distant for ground-based telescopes to perform the work.Extra-solar planets cannot be reliably detected by their reflected light at this time (only one freakish case has allowed this), and Hubble has not been involved in the detection of these planets; it has been done with ground-based telescopes collecting extremely precise spectrometry data.
    --
    The Karma Century Club is taking new members.
  • IIRC, Rotary Rocket is not going to be able to engineer the rotary engine in time for their first launches, and are going to try to use a conventional engine.The last time I heard, the engine they were going to use would not let them get to orbit with a payload (or maybe not let them get to orbit at all).

    I haven't checked their site in a while so I could easily be out of date.
    --
    The Karma Century Club is taking new members.

  • The BBC reports [bbc.co.uk] that the mission will be shorter than originally planned since the launch was delayed and the "agency did not want astronauts in space over millennium eve in case of computer problems."

    Kinda worrying that NASA aren't so confident about their Y2K readiness. Guess you have to be when you're so much in the public eye. But what happens if they have some other non-Y2K problems that hold them up further ... into the new millenium?

    Regards, Ralph.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Or Pioneer Rocketplane [rocketplane.com], Kistler [kistleraerospace.com], Kelly [kellyspace.com], and others, for that matter. But the key word here is equal capabilities: AFAIK, none of the aforementioned projects envision 25 tons to LEO with 7 people aboard...

    Not that I would mind missions to be redesigned to use a smaller payload/crew capacity, maybe with multiple launches.

  • The cost is $25 million a month, and that goes to the ground-based facilities needed to support Hubble, whether or not Hubble is returning pictures or not.
  • It's not just a function of old age. The two major delays this mission were to check the wiring (after finding faulty wiring on another shuttle) which is purely a safety consideration and to repair a dented pipe, which was probably caused by a freak occurence. These are problems which could strike any space mission, new or old, and doesn't really have anything to do with the age of our shuttle fleet.

    Granted, the shuttles are old, but these delays are simply the result of the Challenger incident and NASA's goal to keep people alive. The shuttles themselves are probably in better shape than your current car, and they're certainly in better shape than any car you've owned for 20 years.

    Of course, I'm not saying that a newer design isn't warranted (and NASA has actively been researching towards that goal), but don't dismiss the shuttles because of the delays. It really isn't 'bad design' that's causing them. I think 20 years from now we'll still be able to use the shuttles, even if it's in a workhouse capacity (see the old Nebula-class starships from Star Trek, ST:TNG, and ST:DSN if you need an example).
  • During the post-launch press conference, they said they would have Hubble repaired before the next millenium. I guess that means they have a whole year to deliver on that promise! [Insert obligatory bitch about the millenium actually starting 1 Jan 2001]

    Ad Astra

  • Nonononono! It wasn't the observatories! It was McDonalds. They bought telescope time to do research into their new line of McSpacewiches.
  • The shuttles themselves are probably in better shape than your current car, and they're certainly in better shape than any car you've owned for 20 years.

    I don't strap my car to two solid rocket boosters and send it into orbit, at least not regularly. This is a very bogus comparison, the tolerances (e.g. heat, stress) required for normal operation of a car, and the tolerances required for a man rated launcher are not comparable.

    Of course, I'm not saying that a newer design isn't warranted (and NASA has actively been researching towards that goal), but don't dismiss the shuttles because of the delays. It really isn't 'bad design' that's causing them.

    Unfortunately is bad design thats causing the delays, the shuttle design was a compromise (much like the current ISS debacle) due to repeated budget cuts. Initially design targets were to have something that could fly and turn around again in a matter of days or weeks, they were looking for a shuttle that could fly (at a minimum) twenty or thirty times a year. What they ended up with falls very short of the mark, something that was actually more expensive to launch than a normal rocket. The shuttle is an aging launcher, with design compromises at every turn, it shows.

    Hopefully, VentureStar won't be as big a disappointment, although personally I still think they should have gone with the Delta Clipper (at least they had a working prototype in hardware).

    I think 20 years from now we'll still be able to use the shuttles, even if it's in a workhouse capacity

    No way, we've already stretched the design lifetime well beyond the inital estimates.

    Al.
    --
  • ...and NASA's goal to keep people alive.

    What's with that? What ever happened to the good old days when we just strap a couple guys to a few million pounds of explosive liquids, lit a match under them and zoooOOOOMMM, off we go, if they die, screw it, we'll send up some more, we can afford it, we're America! Heck, why havn't we done this for a trip to Mars? Yeah, a couple people might get killed on the way, but such is the price of science, right? I mean, they did volunter to be astronauts, right, no ones making them do this.

    ...

    (I hope they realize that I'm kidding.)

    "God does not play dice with the universe." -Albert Einstein

  • Hopefully, VentureStar won't be as big a disappointment, although personally I still think they should have gone with the Delta Clipper (at least they had a working prototype in hardware).

    The "VultureStar" is already a disappointment. The initial program (the X-33) keeps being scaled back in capabilities while the time to first flight keeps getting pushed out. The problems are multi-tiered but mainly caused by trying too many new technologies in one vehicle and having an old-line high-cost aerospace company build it.

    Also remember that the final product won't be manned. There are a couple of concepts to put a passenger module in the cargo bay, but there won't be a pilot on board.

    Jeff

  • As for beset by problems: okay, the focus thing when it first went up was unortunate and expensive, but since then, its problems were those of any satellite with a shitload of different technologies aboard. Its original aim -- to spot extra solor planets -- has never been achieved, but it's been a stunning success in every other regard.
    True.... most of which the general public never sees. The primary purpose of that big 'scope was to do research in the infared and ultraviolet and radio frequency realms, things which don't need that big mirror with its "contact lens" to work right. Hubble started sending good science within a couple of weeks of finishing outgassing, before they even planned a mission to "fix" it. The visual-spectrum lens system is just there to send back pretty pictures and make the public go "ooh" and "ahhh" and "vote for this, mister congressman." It serves little scientific value.

    Is it really worth it? Hafta ask somebody else, I was just the sysadm for a sister project when the thing went up. Didn't stick around for the results.

    Glenn Stone
    former Data Validation system administrator
    NASA UARS (Georgia Tech)
    now under contract to another fine airplane company in the Seattle area
  • Seems like he has shrimp cocktail quite often...

    -Chris
  • Can anyone honestly say that they are 100% sure that nothing will happen when the clock ticks over? I sure can't say that about my code, and I've checked it thoroughly - nothing is 100% in this world.

    NASA's just being cautious, nothing more. They may be confident about their own systems, but what about backups or others that they don't have complete control over? What about power systems on the ground?

    NASA will probably go through the New Year without incident. They just don't wanna take the risk of making any mission the first to lose astronauts in space.

  • Uhh, hello? You've never heard of ``yellow shift''?

    It's the phenomenon that occurs when celestial bodies are moving away from us in w-space. When they're moving toward us, it's ``green shift.'' It's perfectly normal in most cases.

    -Chris
  • Can anyone tell me why the BBC has better intel on the NASA/shuttle situation than anybody IN the US? It just seems kinda odd that with all the DIRT our local media can dig up why can't they get any REAL inforamtion on what is going on at NASA.
  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @05:02AM (#1459823) Homepage
    I don't strap my car to two solid rocket boosters and send it into orbit, at least not regularly. This is a very bogus comparison, the tolerances (e.g. heat, stress) required for normal operation of a car, and the tolerances required for a man rated launcher are not comparable.

    You also don't baby your car the way that NASA babies it's space shuttles, nor do you meticulously repair the maybe slightly defective parts the way NASA does with the space shuttle. Both vehicles are designed for certain limits, and both operate within those limits.

    Unfortunately is bad design thats causing the delays, the shuttle design was a compromise (much like the current ISS debacle) due to repeated budget cuts. Initially design targets were to have something that could fly and turn around again in a matter of days or weeks, they were looking for a shuttle that could fly (at a minimum) twenty or thirty times a year. What they ended up with falls very short of the mark, something that was actually more expensive to launch than a normal rocket. The shuttle is an aging launcher, with design compromises at every turn, it shows.

    Compromise of the initial design vision isn't what's delaying the shuttle in any way. If the shuttle was built to be used 20-30 times a year, it still would undergo the safety checks that NASA is giving it now, and if they wiring was bad on one of those shuttles, I'm sure NASA would take the time to check each one, and it would probably still have an excessive number of miles of wiring. What's causing the delay here isn't the design of the shuttles, whatever form that design may be, but NASA's anality (analism, analness?) about safety. Rightly so, I might add, since protecting the lives of the passengers should be the top priority.


    Hopefully, VentureStar won't be as big a disappointment, although personally I still think they should have gone with the Delta Clipper (at least they had a working prototype in hardware).

    Yeah, and in the meantime, what do you use? The current 'bad design' that's really only failed once in 20 years of usage, right? NASA's not going to make the mistake again of stopping all space flight for development of a launching mechanism when they have a perfectly good one. And given the VentureStar or the Delta Clipper's design snafus, I'm glad they're still researching it.

    No way, we've already stretched the design lifetime well beyond the inital estimates.

    Then how can it be a bad design? It may not fulfill the initial design vision, but as anyone who's ever worked in design can tell you, the vision changes as you work on a project. The fact that the shuttles have lasted this long with only problems to the launch device, not the orbiter itself, shows exactly how great and durable a design it actually is.


  • Yes, it's called the doppler effect. But you're reading too much into my post... if you overanalyze it you'll kill it. :)

    Anyway, yeesh... geek humor apparently needs to be free of any type of technical exaggeration or they'll hang you on the spot for it.... Hrrrrrrmmm...

  • The BBC reports that the mission will be shorter than originally planned since the launch was delayed and the "agency did not want astronauts in space over millennium eve in case of computer problems." Kinda worrying that NASA aren't so confident about their Y2K readiness. Guess you have to be when you're so much in the public eye. But what happens if they have some other non-Y2K problems that hold them up further ... into the new millenium?

    It's not a matter of confidence; NASA's primary responsibility isn't showing off their confidence, but the safety of the astronauts. All things considered, having crew on orbit over the new year just isn't a good idea. The risk may be small, but the consequences could be fatal.

    Boosting public confidence is the job of agencies like the FAA, which is making a point of having its administrator in flight over the Y2K clock tick (except she keeps getting flights cancelled out from under her, due to low demand).

    As for problems not related to Y2K, it's more likely that they would then merely cut the mission short. The chance of an in-flight failure that prevents a return to Earth (e.g. cargo bay door stuck open) is the same as before, and nobody wants to think about that. There simply isn't any contingency for a rescue of a disabled shuttle.
    ----
  • You mean there actually is a yellow shift? Here I was being a wiseguy.

    -Chris
  • That sounds a little extreme just because of some launch delays (which have *always* been the norm with the space program). But if you want to look at a commercial reusable launch platform, take a look at this [rotaryrocket.com] site.
  • Can anyone tell me why the BBC has better intel on the NASA/shuttle situation than anybody IN the US? It just seems kinda odd that with all the DIRT our local media can dig up why can't they get any REAL inforamtion on what is going on at NASA.

    This isn't "intel", it's been publicly announced that they chose to launch Sunday but trim one of the spacewalks (the insulation, which has the lowest priority, will now be part of repair mission 3B in 2001).

    It is, however, true that NASA has a set way of dealing with the media, and are notorious for preferring those reporters who will play ball with their PR line. The constituencies within NASA who deviate from the official story are punished or exiled. The NASA public affairs office can be extraordinarily petty (viz. the way they tried to require that all Hubble photography carry only the NASA logo, no matter that the Space Telescope Science Institute prepared it or that European Space Agency equipment was used).

    The media, in general, mostly run stories about NASA when they have:
    a) a ready-made success story
    b) pretty pictures
    c) a major failure
    c) 1) if major failure within last year, also report all minor failures in ominous tones

    ----
  • Even if NASA had 100% confidence in the systems aboard the "manned space truck" they'd have to worry about all the ground systems. And even if they had 100% confidence in all the ground systems they have to consider that their are factors they cannot control on the ground. What if third-party systems like power and water fail. What if some satellite based communications fail because of third-party ground systems? What if they run out of champagne? (you can't have a dog-and-pony-show celebration without champagne!) And I'm sure their official checklist includes fear of millenial terrorists attacking the space shuttle, and the melissa virus doing some non-descript "bad thing" to their computers.

    The bottom line is that, weather the threats are real or imagined, they can't control everything so they should error on the side of caution. It is just good risk management.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @05:30AM (#1459832)
    Odd... it seems to me that every time I turn around, Hubble has broken again... are we attacking the symptoms here or the disease, so to speak?

    You might want to learn [stsci.edu] a little more about the Hubble mission. When this thing was put together, several servicing missions were anticipated to replace components as the wore out, and to upgrade or swap out instruments. These missions are planned on a three year cycle.

    The ORIGINAL plan was to bring the Hubble back to earth for refitting every 5 years, however the ability of shuttle crews to do in-orbit servicing has made this unnecessary.

    IN FACT, the Hubble has been one of the greatest successes of the entire space program.

    This mission not only includes replacement of gyroscopes (that lasted longer than originally planned), but upgrading some instruments and the main Hubble computer system.

  • by Tau Zero ( 75868 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @05:32AM (#1459835) Journal
    Back in the days of the unjustly-maligned Strategic Defense Initiative, there was a group of people who were charged with getting SDI satellites into orbit. They had advantages over NASA in this regard. They were tied to neither the existing launch-vehicle fleet nor the high-cost aerospace contractors; this let them examine things afresh. They took out a clean sheet of paper and tried to design, not a vehicle, but a program for getting a vehicle.

    What they wound up with looked very different from the Space Scuttle and VultureStar. It was a squarish bullet, covered in thermal-blanket material originally developed for the Shuttle. It was not terribly fussy about its engines; it could have flown on J2's or RL-10's. The innovations were several:

    1. It was designed to land tail first, under power. This takes advantage of the engines, which are along for the ride, to provide landing capabilities. This eliminates the need to be able to glide subsonically; the glideslope, flare and landing maneuver required by Shuttle (and VentureStar) is unnecessary.
    2. It did not have wings. This saved a great deal of weight in the airframe.
    3. Its landing gear was a system of struts and pads. No wheels required. This saved more weight.
    4. The pilot went away also. When so many missions are just putting unmanned birds or cargo in orbit, why carry people along all the time?
    The vehicle was to be called the Delta Clipper, or DC-1.

    The development program was very innovative: build a little, fly the results, roll the lessons learned back into the next generation. The first vehicle (low-altitude atmospheric testing, designed to prove some of the required maneuvers for takeoff, landing and aborts) was the DC-X. The second-generation, subscale, orbital (with no payload) vehicle was to be the DC-Y; it would have tested fuel tankage, weight-saving and thermal-protection systems.

    The total cost of DC-X and DC-Y was to be less than one year's budget for the Shuttle program.

    SDIO borrowed stuff from everywhere to build DC-X. They got 4 RL-10's on loan from Rocketdyne, had the aeroshell built by Scaled Composites (Burt Rutan's outfit), and reprogrammed an airliner autopilot to fly the bird. DC-X was a phenomenal success, proving everything it was set out to do. And then SDIO, shutting down and getting outside of their bailiwick (which was NOT to develop commercial spacecraft launchers), turned the program and the prototype over to NASA.

    NASA completed the scheduled test flights and then crashed and burned the prototype when someone neglected to reconnect a landing-gear unlock line before flight. Accident? Deliberate? No one's talking.

    After the destruction of the DC-X, NASA let a contract for the development of a successor to the Shuttle. The developers of the DC-X had a bid in, but the contract was awarded to a company whose vehicle:

    • Had no development record;
    • Could not be delivered for many years longer;
    • Had a much more expensive development program.
    On the other hand it took off vertically like Shuttle, landed on (and required) a runway like Shuttle, and required a new engine development program. The winner was not the low bidder. Can you say "more pork"?

    When the winner of the contract was announced, the counsel for NASA was present. This was apparently to keep the DC-1 proponents from getting the idea of suing to either get the contract or find out what funny business had gone on. In the mean time, the Shuttle and its standing army of maintenance people are still working, and there's a lucrative R&D contract for the VentureStar (even though it's having serious difficulties with its composite LH2 tanks delaminating). It's great for everyone except the taxpayer and people who might benefit from flying satellites cheaper; IOW, it sucks.
    --
    The Karma Century Club is taking new members.

  • by DHartung ( 13689 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @05:35AM (#1459836) Homepage
    Does anyone know if the sort of problems the Hubble is having are "routine" or if this was a problem inherent in the design of the telescope? It seems (and maybe I'm just too influenced by the media) that this project has been beset by problems from the very start. Too bad too...its images are breathtaking.

    If you want the whole story, I highly recommend reading Eric Chaisson's The Hubble Wars [amazon.com] ; he was a senior scientist on the project during the pre-launch and commissioning, and is a tremendously detailed but engaging scientific writer. Read it, and you'll never look at NASA the same way again. (For a similar perspective on people in space, read Dragonfly [amazon.com].)

    The problems with Hubble are too many to enumerate here, but they begin with the overselling of the shuttle's capabilities, i.e. flight rate and cost. (In the 1970s, they would have laughed at the idea of a six-month delay in launching a servicing mission.) The Hubble was also beset by requirements that they borrow tech from the military spysat side, but without classified knowledge about the limitations of that tech. The closed procurement process probably factored in the misshapen mirror.

    But it is also crystal-clear from the book that NASA fumbled the PR. First they dissembled about the problems, then they labeled it a complete failure. Chaisson and others desperately tried to show that it could do real science even with the astigmatism, and they succeeded. And they came up with a correction, and NASA got on board with installing the fix. Since the fix, it has performed at or above expectations.

    The gyros were known to have a limited lifespan, and having them replaced was always a possibility. The telescope is happily waiting in safe mode for its systems to be repaired. The shuttle repair mission was moved up, but then it was held, and held, and held again, while the gyros began to fail. Having Hubble offline is extremely disappointing, but this particular problem is really not to be compared with a design flaw. In fact, with this mission and the 3B repair mission in '01, we can probably expect Hubble to outperform its expected 15-year on-orbit lifespan.

    (If anyone can recommend a decent book from outside Chaisson's perspective, I'd like to hear of it, just to hear the other side of the story.)
    ----
  • now THIS is a funny post!
  • I was aware of red and blue shifting... "yellow" shifting is conceivable, but I've never heard of it referred to as such. I suppose it's possible....
  • I don't think that they fear any date related problem.

    What they do really fear is when Y2K turn, the computer will switch to the metric system.

    This could confuse the astraunots and mission control and cause a big shuttle crash on New York when the coutdown reach 0.

    This could cause the Great Extinction of The US Measurment System.

    NASA really don't want that to happen.
  • From today in history mailing list:

    1977 Soviet Cosmonaut Georgi Grechko makes the first space walk, from the Salyut spaceship

  • With all the delays that Discovery and the rest of the shuttles have been experiencing, I think it may be time to retire the shuttles in favor of a newer design.

    That's pretty disingenuous. What "newer design" is flight-ready? None.

    While I'm no fan of the money-sucking, delay-prone, self-perpetuating shuttle program (I'd rather see that money spent on science missions, unless they're going to do something worthwhile like go to Mars), the shuttle is it for now. They're presently testing future shuttle technologies, e.g. X-33 and X-34 testbeds, X-38 flying wing station escape pod (CRV), and the big flying wing project from LockMart called VentureStar (we made it, it's really expensive, please buy it to make us rich). These are steps in the right direction, but they're baby steps. We're nowhere near designing the real next-generation shuttle. In fact, given the fact that shuttle's main apparent problems are not in fact problems -- that is, the people running the show care not about launch costs nor about delays, since the shuttle has so little to do nowadays -- it's hard to argue that it needs replacement.

    There is a slate of possible shuttle upgrades, but again, they tend to solve problems we don't actually have (i.e. nobody cares about): making launches cheaper, or faster, or more capable. These would be nice to have, but there is no mission that requires them.

    Meanwhile, the commercial launch business is sprinting toward next-generation vehicles like Rotary Rocket [rotaryrocket.com] that have a good shot at reducing launch costs dramatically, which will change the equation for putting satellites in orbit -- and maybe just turn NASA into an agency buying a transport-to-orbit service from the market.
    ----
  • What about the 486 ? I believe NPR ran a story and explained that the 486, though old, is less sensitive to radiation ? Does that sound reasonable ? http://hstsci.gsfc.nasa.gov/host/486computer.html There's also a link on Hughes Electronics that mentions the 486.
  • a night launch from the Cape is a beautiful sight.

    I'm not sure how common it is -- it's probably been published everywhere -- but the picture [esa.int] on the ESA's site is probably the best shuttle picture I've seen. Ever.
  • The end-of-year rollover has been a recurrent source of problems in many programs that predict the orbits of spacecraft, such as antenna control software for ground stations. Even without the year 2000, it is a time to be avoided. The ranges (Cape Canaveral & Vandenberg) also are partially shutdown at the end of the year so that people can take holiday vacations.
  • by Tau Zero ( 75868 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @05:50AM (#1459846) Journal
    The Hubble was also beset by requirements that they borrow tech from the military spysat side, but without classified knowledge about the limitations of that tech. The closed procurement process probably factored in the misshapen mirror.
    It most certainly did. The mirror on the Hubble was built by Perkin-Elmer, in a plant devoted to spysats. NASA was not allowed access to the plant to verify the correct figuring of the mirror, and an error by P-E in the construction of the test gear caused it to be built to an incorrect focus. As a cost-saving measure, the entire Hubble was not checked for proper focus before launch (Perkin-Elmer was assumed to know what they were doing). In contrast, the backup mirror contract was let to Kodak; after the problem with the P-E mirror was discovered after launch, Kodak's mirror was checked and found to be flawless.

    I guess "open-source" isn't just good for software, it's good for space projects too.
    --
    The Karma Century Club is taking new members.

  • Also, the Hubble was originally supposed to go into space in 1986! All the parts are 13 years old. Of COURSE they're a little worn. (How's your 1985 Cutlass Supreme or Commodore 128?) :-)
    Sure, it was in storage for a couple of years, but haven't you ever had anything go bad in the box?

    Actually, I'm surprised that it took this long for 4 of the 6 gyroscopes to go bad, given the rigors of space as an environment. Debris (no matter how small) hitting the hull can't help, never mind the occasionally solar flares and such...

  • LOL! I have the 300kbps NASA TV stream [broadcast.com] running here at work. They were printing the "morning mail" on Discovery. They have a laptop apparently running Windows, hooked up to a Thermal Impact printer. They apparently have a pretty nice setup, nicer than I would have expected. They can do colour or black and white print-outs, they have MS Office, etc.

    They get daily messages sent up from Mission Control with data and instructions, checklist changes, etc for the upcoming day's activities. I wonder if it's a standard email system with a TCP/IP stack on the laptop, or if it's some shuttle specific protocol?

    Well anyway, they apparently had a paper jam in the printer this morning. I had a good chuckle as I listened to the conversation between CAPCOM Chris Hadfield and John Grunsfeld in orbit as he fixed it. He was opening documents in MS Word and printing out single pages, describing garble characters, pagination problems, etc. It was neat to hear them talking about this stuff that a lot of us have dealt with in luser support. They were talking about computer stuff in Astronaut terminology.
  • >>The closed procurement process probably factored in the misshapen mirror.
    >It most certainly did.


    To be sure, Chaisson merely theorizes to that effect. He implies that the NASA officials overseeing the process were not allowed access to the spysat optical tech and were not, in a sense, qualified to check Perkin-Elmer's work.

    NASA was not allowed access to the plant to verify the correct figuring of the mirror,

    It's not clear to Chaisson (ten years after the fact), but he believes that NASA simply rubber-stamped P-E's own tests, even though they may have shown the error.

    As a cost-saving measure, the entire Hubble was not checked for proper focus before launch (Perkin-Elmer was assumed to know what they were doing).

    To be clear, this was a result of the lower bid entered by P-E. It wasn't made after the fact. ("Hey, let's not check the mirror.") It may have been an oversight ("Hey, how come this bid's cheaper?"). NASA tried to pump up the testing cost to astronomical levels after the fact, to defend this choice, but Chaisson believes it could have been tested very cheaply. It was simply not considered critical to check the contractor's work on delivery.

    In contrast, the backup mirror contract was let to Kodak; after the problem with the P-E mirror was discovered after launch, Kodak's mirror was checked and found to be flawless.

    This is incorrect; I just read that chapter. The Kodak mirror was delivered to P-E before they had finished their own mirror. The crate in which it arrived remained on the P-E premises (as of 1991's writing), but nobody could/would verify whether or not it still contained a mirror. It was rumored to have been recycled into a spysat. Chaisson believes that it was probably flawless, since Kodak used a more reliable (standard) process to make it.

    So, Kodak delivered a good mirror, but P-E (for some odd reason) had the choice to use their mirror or a competitors. Guess which they went with.
    ----
  • 1977 Soviet Cosmonaut Georgi Grechko makes the first space walk, from the Salyut spaceship

    1977? More than a decade past Gemini?

    What about Leonov, in 1965 [umich.edu], Voskhod 2?

    George

  • I'd like to see a /. interview with somebody at NASA who supports the Orbiter Communications Adapter (OCA). The OCA is the radio data link to the onboard laptops and printer on the orbiter. They use it to send up "email" to the Shuttle from Mission Control.

    One part I'd like to hear about is what they have on the laptops as far as OS, applications, what brand of printer, what model of laptop, etc.

    Even more interesting would be to hear about the communications and email protocol they use. Are they running standard TCP/IP across the link, and standard email protocols? What email clients and servers do they use? (I hope they don't say MS Exchange...)

    If it's standard TCP/IP, can the astronauts surf the web from orbit? I hope they have whatever network the Orbiter PC's are on firewalled out the ying-yang. Do the astronauts have email addresses that we outside NASA can send to? Do they get spam in orbit?
  • Most of us would like to spend Xmas in space, but we have to keep in mind the short timeframe for the whole mission - the Shuttle has to be back before the end of the year in order to avoid Y2K problems. The schedule is damn tight... but I am sure that Claude Nicollier and the others will do a perfect job.
  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @06:45AM (#1459854) Homepage
    Chips with smaller feature sizes are usually more susceptible to radiation. Space qualified, radiation hardened chips are often several generations behind commercial chips. Most vendors have bailed out of the milspec/space market. The profits (if any) are too small in comparison to the commercial market. ESA designed a space qualified version of the SPARC and Sandia National Laboratory is working on a space qualified Pentium.

  • NASA will probably go through the New Year without incident. They just don't wanna take the risk of making any mission the first to lose astronauts in space.


    They have no real concerns about Y2K, they just didn't want to be working while everyone else was partying!

  • That picture conforms to Cmdr. Taco's law of art. If it's good enough for a background image, it's art. I just added it to my rotating selection of background images.
  • We just better hope it's dealt with quickly, I for one don't trust the shuttle to be in the air in 11 days time. It's just reminds me of the threat of Skylab.

    Why? What's going to happen? The Shuttle is in a stable orbit, so it's not like it's going to simply fall out of the sky.

  • OK well that answers one of my questions...

    Sounds like the email client is Outlook, and they use IE for some kind of web browsing. Unclear if they're browsing live pages on the network or if they have some static HTML files on the hard drive. He said they were using IE to bring up documents in Acrobat to print out.

    BTW, they think they migh want to try a new printer driver, so they've asked the ground to send up a new installation file. If they can transfer decent sized files, they must have a pretty good speed on the network.
  • Does anyone know if the sort of problems the Hubble is having are "routine" or if this was a problem inherent in the design of the telescope? It seems (and maybe I'm just too influenced by the media) that this project has been beset by problems from the very start.

    Too bad too...its images are breathtaking.

    It seems to me then if you're that impressed by the amazing imagery, that any of the problems that Hubble had in the past would be rendered irrelevent.

  • Fix the freaking hubble space telescope! It's damn busted!

    Astronauts read /. right?

    Bad Mojo
  • Why should we explore space when we have so many problems here on earth that need attention? Before we throw our hard-earned money into a vacuum, we should devote our attention to more important things, like providing food, clothing, and shelter to third world children, writing welfare checks to the victims of our cruel capitalist society, funding alternative lifestyles, testing the flow rates of ketchup, maintaining databases of potential deadbeat dads, and building more prisons for the people who violate the increasing number of laws that our legislators write.

    No, until our current planet is absolutely perfect in every way, we should stay here. And when our planet is perfect, we won't have any reason to leave anyway. Sounds good to me.

  • The reason they don't want the shuttle up there is simply that it would be such a silly thing to have people die from(space shuttle blows up in massive fire works display visible to entire southern hemisphere,yes i am aware thats an exageration), and at the same time its so incredibly easy to prevent(have them on the ground before anything can go wrong.) yes, there isn't much of a chance of anything going wrong, but why risk it when you don't have to?
  • Fixing The Hubble Space Telescope
    (an essay by Monkeysoft)

    Technology has made many of our nation's essential services -- utilities, banking, communications, transportation, health care, and telescopes -- enormously more productive and reliable.

    Yet, while we take for granted many of technology's benefits, concerns over issues like Yanni, mischievous monkey corporations, ritz crackers and even the President's haircut raise legitimate questions about our preparedness for Global Domination.

    That's why the announcement last week of the creation of an industry-government alliance -- the Partnership for Critical Telescope Security -- was so important. The partnership was formed in part to address potential threats to and vulnerabilities of the telescopes and monkeys upon which our nation's essential services depend.

    As Arid-zona Senator Jon Katz, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Telescopes, Turkeys and Government Terrorism, noted at a congressional hearing in October, "virtually every key service is dependent on monkeys: from electric donkey bottom wipers to phoney hairpieces, telescopes, pizza delivery and strip-o-gram services, "medical devices" [and] embezzling."

    According to Senator Katz, the National Insecurity Agency has evidence that more than 100 countries are working on monkey warfare techniques. Katz cited reports of breaches of the digestive systems of the Defense and Energy departments, of ritz crackers gaining access to the women of leading telecommunications companies, the national powerless grid and air traffic destructo-systems.

    Monkeysoft and more than 2 leading United States companies and industry associations, including Bubba's Garage, Shitigroup, Crisco Systems and Not-So-Consolidated Edison, are participating in the Partnership for Critical Telescope Security.

    With the United States military as Monkeysoft's largest hindrance to Global Domination, and many other important customers in the adult entertainment, telescopic, dianetics and gambling industries, we understand fully the need for a reliable and secure telescope infrastructure.

    In remarks at the Partnership's first meeting in New Dork, U.S. Commerce Secretary William "Billy" M. Doohickey underscored the importance of a collaborative effort by the circus industry and the government to address these challenges and assure the delivery of critical telescopes.

    "Because the vast majority of the country's critical telescopes are privately owned and operated, the federal government cannot mandate a solution. Most of the challenges are best handled by monkeys, but some are better met by industry and government working together as partners," said Doohickey.

    Secretary Doohickey's comments recognize that the private sector bares themselves in order to address much of the telescope's impact on society, while also acknowledging that there are areas where industry and government must work together in order to get more booty.

    Just as Monkeysoft has been committed to addressing the Yanni issue, we are committed to devoting the resources necessary to help facilitate planning and implementing the protection of our telescopes.

    This is our civic duty as an American company and as a leader in the high-times industry. It also is a necessity if we want to ensure that telescopes continue to serve as the engine of our nation's economy and to provide new opportunities for voyeurism, spying, communism and Making Money Fast.

    In short... we'll fix it.

  • But how would they justify their budget if commercial operators were launching?

    Maybe the DC-X should have been sold to the Chinese or the Russians... Anybody but NASA.

    Damn, where are your moderator points when you need them.

  • Some people think that coming down from the trees was a bad idea.
  • I hope you are not serious about all this...
  • In order to give Credit Where Credit is Due - The preceding post was based entirely on this essay [microsoft.com].
  • NASA still doesn't have anything close to the clipper..

    Nasa's archive:
    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/x-33/m enu_dcx.htm

    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap951028.html
  • In fact it might be hard for the Hubble to see even if it crashed on Earth, not on Mars! (well, depending on how big a crater it made, if any).
  • >Under the link to the crew is a list of what
    >they're having to eat. It seems that Curtis Brown
    >is having Rehydratable Shrimp Cocktails for both
    >lunch and dinner today! Must be nice. :)

    I've noticed that as well, but when you consider in the costs for preparing the food (Whatever the food is) the difference between a $1 hot dog and a $10 shrip to the differance between a $201 hot dog and a $210 shrimp.

    Which would you prefer to eat?
  • If the shuttle was built to be used 20-30 times a year, it still would undergo the safety checks that NASA is giving it now, and if they wiring was bad on one of those shuttles, I'm sure NASA would take the time to check each one, and it would probably still have an excessive number of miles of wiring.

    Actually thats the problem, the design compromises meant that the shuttle needs these checks. The entire point was to build something that you could turn around in a week with only minimal safety checks.

    Rightly so, I might add, since protecting the lives of the passengers should be the top priority.

    Very politically correct, my gut agrees with you. Unfortunately, I'm not sure my head does. Despite the number of flights, if it were an aircraft the shuttle wouldn't even be out of inital flight tests yet. Test pilots die on a (fairly) regular basis, nobody kicks up (much of) a fuss. The reason Challenger accident shut down the US manned space program is that NASA had sold the shuttle to the American public as as a reliable and safe route to orbit, it isn't, it can't be. Its still experimental technology.

    If you look at the statistics we can expect at least one more Challanger scale accident during the construction of the ISS. If the American public, and perhaps more importantly American politicians, react in the way they did to Challanger then NASA is in serious trouble. We're doing risky things here, sometimes people die when you take risks. Sure you manage the risks, but sometimes you have to go ahead and just cross your fingers. It'll be a long time before travelling to orbit is as safe as (for instance) flying a plane.

    The current 'bad design' that's really only failed once in 20 years of usage, right?

    Failed once catastrophically, there have been many minor failures that, with the right combination of circumstances, would have lead to similar Challanger-like incidents.

    Anyway, I haven't said that the shuttle is a badly designed vehicle. There were, in my opinion, poor design choices. That doesn't mean that all the parts don't fit together right.

    Then how can it be a bad design? It may not fulfill the initial design vision...

    You just answered your own question. If you design something that doesn't do what it was supposed to do, no matter how well it does something else, then it is a bad design.

    Al.
    --
  • (somewhat off-topic)

    This is listed as STS 103, but the NASA guy during the lift-off yesterday mentioned this as being the 96th flight of the shuttle program. Where are the other 7?
  • Shuttle flights are numbered in the order that the missions are planned. The shuttle schedule gets moved around for all sorts of reasons, from weather in Kazakhstan to wiring problems to wacked-out gyroscopes in orbit. It would be confusing to change the numbers around to match the actual launch order.

    The big gap is unusual, mainly because about a dozen International Space Station missions, that have to be done in a certain order, are all waiting on the Russians to launch the Service Module.

    Consider that the STS-103 numbering scheme is an improvement over the cryptic "STS-61C" scheme they briefly used in the 1980s: first digit=year, second digit=launch site (1=KSC, 2=Vandenberg), final character=order scheduled in year. And even those would get mixed around.
    ----
  • Which would you prefer to eat?

    Being not much for seafood, I'd much rather have the hot dog. Or the Salisbury Steak. :^)

  • The embarassing thing about the Hubble is, as Scientific American pointed out some years back, is that one repair mission costs more than all the currently proposed ground-based telescope projects. A few new state-of-the-art ground-based telescopes would both more useful to astronomers and much cheaper, they reported. And they were complaining about the first repair mission.

    So it's a pork program.

    The basic problem with space travel, of course, is that chemical fuels just don't have enough energy to do the job right. So all space vehicles are mostly fuel, and all flight hardware has to be weight-reduced unreasonably, resulting in tiny payloads and expensive, fragile systems. This is why space travel hasn't made much progress since the 1960s. (The Shuttle, remember, is a 1960s design.)

    None of the alternatives to chemical fuels look good. Nuclear propulsion would work, but it's messy. Antimatter looks possible but dangerous. Beanstalks are beyond current technology. The NASA program on alternative propulsion hasn't come up with much. (Links to this seem to be down during the renaming of NASA Lewis to NASA Glenn.) Laser propulsion was considered seriously around 1980 but seems to have been dropped. So we're stuck with chemical fuels until somebody has a really good new idea.

    Someone mentioned Rotary Rocket. That's a cute idea, but like all single-stage-to-orbit vehicles has a very tight weight budget. In fact, since they had to back off on the rotary engine and went with an off-the-shelf design, their vehicle will not be able to reach orbit. Almost, though.

    And that's the way it is.

  • To be sure, Chaisson merely theorizes to that effect. He implies that the NASA officials overseeing the process were not allowed access to the spysat optical tech and were not, in a sense, qualified to check Perkin-Elmer's work.
    Considering that Perkin-Elmer did two tests which are commonly performed by amateur telescope makers (the knife-edge test and the Foucault test), this explanation appears lame.

    In contrast, the backup mirror contract was let to Kodak; after the problem with the P-E mirror was discovered after launch, Kodak's mirror was checked and found to be flawless.
    This is incorrect; I just read that chapter. The Kodak mirror was delivered to P-E before they had finished their own mirror. The crate in which it arrived remained on the P-E premises (as of 1991's writing), but nobody could/would verify whether or not it still contained a mirror. It was rumored to have been recycled into a spysat. Chaisson believes that it was probably flawless, since Kodak used a more reliable (standard) process to make it.
    My information about the Kodak mirror came from Jim Loudon, I think; it's hard to recall. However, I'll dispute the story about the processing of the mirror. Grinding mirrors isn't any secret. According to the account I read, a test device which incorporated an aperture with a mirror behind it (for the Foucault test) was supposed to be flat black, but an area on it was polished by the drill press when the hole was made. This extra reflecting area caused the mirror to read as being on-spec when it was actually focussing short. The knife-edge test revealed the problem, but P-E ignored the results because the Foucault test was "more accurate". It turned out to be more precise, but precision and accuracy are two different things. The mirror was built to focus dead-on to a point too close to the primary, nobody checked, and the rest is history.

    --
    The Karma Century Club is taking new members.
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Monday December 20, 1999 @10:28AM (#1459880) Homepage
    Well seeing the space shuttle take off from 300 miles away is a religious experience.
    First you see the cirrus clouds way of in the distance get faint red, then you see a huge ball of fire rise right under the red clouds, illuminating them from underneath and arcing to the right. Then it punches through the clouds, flares up, and spits out two smaller balls of fire, the boosters. The white ball of fire produced by the main engines keeps burning forever and arcs right until it looks horizontal but really you're seeing the curvature of the earth. Then it becomes just another star, like Battlestar Galactica. I got the whole thing on Realvideo. It's extremely rare to get a perfectly clear night in Fl*rida in December.
  • This was a link to 'great pictures to stare at', it was not meant to be a Hubble specific site. The great thing about this site is that it shows a different picture every day and usually (but not always) related to something which just happened. However this site shows Hubble pictures from time to time.
  • Then how can it be a bad design? It may not fulfill the initial design vision...

    You just answered your own question. If you design something that doesn't do what it was supposed to do, no matter how well it does something else, then it is a bad design.


    You didn't show the rest of the post in which I said that 'visions change'. Quake III was just released. If you look at the original screenshots from way back when, you see a lot of curved surfaces, undulating walls, and really cool character faces. The levels that were released with the final version weren't anything like these screenshots. They changed the way they designed those levels because of the way those levels impacted computer systems. Was the final design a bad design? No. Did it fulfill their goals? Yes, or so they say. Did it fulfill the initial design vision? No. And things rarely do. That's the great thing about the design process. Things change as you move through it.

    I think in the mid 70s, the idea of the space shuttle was a great one and the initial vision was a perfect one, but the technology didn't exist then to actually create a machine that would do everything that they wanted it to do. So they chose the things they really wanted (people in orbit, reusable, big payload) and trimmed out the things they wanted (speed, cheapness) and modified the design goals. If we tried to do the space shuttle's initial design today, I think we would get a lot closer to those original goals, but I think that NASA, even from the outset, has been about public relations, and there's no way they are going to satisfy themselves with general aviation requirements for a vehicle that carries people into outer space. If you want that kind of safety, you are not going to get a two-week turnaround on spacecraft. It just won't happen.

    I attended a lecture by Constance Adams, the chief architect for NASA (she designs the habitation modules for the space station, as one of her duties). She said that NASA, unlike other organizations, has zero tolerance for failure. Every system is designed not to fail. They're not designed just to do their job, but they're also designed not to fail (and she made the distinction). Furthermore, systems are designed to handle failure within their systems so that if a failure does happen (and remember, they have zero tolerance for failure), then those part won't fail. That kind of redundancy takes time to ensure. The space shuttle is by no means 'experimental technology'. It was tested many many many times before it ever even made it's way up to the launch pad. It's still tested many many many times before every launch. Just because something is one-of-a-kind does not make it experimental. NASA was more positive of the outcome of its first shuttle launch than you are of your car.

    But I digress. Back to the original comment, yes, the shuttle is a bad design for the inital design vision, but that's not what it was designed for. It was designed for a highly modified (some might say compromised) design that you see fulfilled every time a shuttle makes it safely to and from orbit. Yes, we need a new orbiter system and we'll get it. NASA wants it more than you or I. But NASA also realizes the incredible value and stability of its current system and chastising that system is simply ignoring its incredible success.

  • I'd like to see it... :)

    --
  • In respect to the new design of shuttle that you talked about;

    Landing pads and structs saving wieght over wheels? Thats a bit debatable. And I'd think the wieght GAINED by having to take the fuel to land verticaly would be greater than the wieght of wings for landing. It would take a tonne of fuel to "land" a craft vericaly using rockets on earth. It takes a load to get it up as it is.

    You would probably double your fuel requirement, which I suspect would wiegh more than the wings of the space shuttle. (Remember, the space shuttles engines aren't the main lifting during take off.

    And since Nasa is fighting for every penny it can get, and doing well, launching cheaper satilites and space vechiles, I can't see how it would be in NASAs best interest to intentionaly destroy a very expensive prototype, then deliberatly pay more money and time to develop another one.

    The shuttle too can launch fly, and land with noone at the pilot seat, but we get more from having people up there, fixing any problems that go wrong, and doing experiments. I'd certainly like to see this new craft fix problems in the Hubble without a human hand up there.

"Everyone is entitled to an *informed* opinion." -- Harlan Ellison

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