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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 27, 2006 3:48:04 GMT -6
NASA to decide Hubble's Fate Soon
The US space agency (Nasa) is to debate whether to send astronauts on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
Without another servicing call by shuttle astronauts, Hubble is expected to last another two to three years.
At the crux of this is whether to risk flying astronauts on the shuttle without the International Space Station available as an emergency shelter. Nasa set up the station as an orbital safe haven after the Columbia shuttle broke apart on re-entry in 2003. The shuttles cannot fly from Hubble's orbit to reach the station, so if a Hubble repair crew's ship was too damaged to safely fly home, Nasa has little time to mount a rescue before the shuttle's power runs out.
If the mission is approved, astronauts will add two new science instruments and replace the telescope's batteries and gyroscopes, which are used to point and position the observatory.
The improvements and upgrades should extend Hubble's orbital lifetime to at least 2013, Nasa says.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 28, 2006 7:38:27 GMT -6
Hubbles fate determined on the 31st of October
Top NASA officials are meeting today to discuss the fate of the Hubble Space Telescope with an announcement slated for Oct. 31.
Shuttle officials and mission managers are meeting at the space agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and are expected to announce their final decision on Halloween from the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, NASA spokesperson Katherine Trinidad told me today.
“The meeting was definitely starting this morning,” Trinidad said. “Tuesday is still a good date for an announcement.”
NASA chief Michael Griffin has said repeatedly that he would support a final Hubble servicing mission so long as the spaceflight doesn’t carry unacceptable risk for its astronaut crew. The space agency has launched three shuttle flights since the tragic 2003 loss of the Columbia orbiter and its seven-astronaut crew, but each of those post-accident missions flew to the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts could take refuge in the event their spacecraft is incapacitated.
In any event, keep an ear to the ground, because a Hubble-bound mission would be the only non-ISS construction flight for NASA’s shuttle program before the orbiter fleet is retired in September 2010.In any event, keep an ear to the ground, because a Hubble-bound mission would be the only non-ISS construction flight for NASA’s shuttle program before the orbiter fleet is retired in September 2010.