Hubble makes for strange bedfellows

The Space Frontier Foundation and the Mars Society announced yesterday that they are jointly calling on NASA to mount a shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. “The Hubble deserters’ embrace of irrational fear as a core ethic threatens a precedent that would preclude any future human accomplishments in space,” the Foundation’s spokesman, Rick Tumlinson, said in the statement. “Indeed, had such an ethic prevailed in our space program the past, we would never have been able to launch or repair Hubble, and the Apollo program would have been inconceivable. Should we embrace it now, the prospects for future human exploration of the Moon and Mars will decline to zero.” While the Space Frontier Foundation and the Mars Society have a lot in common—organizations with influence that goes beyond the relatively small sizes, featuring outspoken (and often polarizing) leaders—they usually have very different views on national space priorities, making joint statements like these relatively rare. (Although both organizations are members of the Space Exploration Alliance.)

Meanwhile, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) visited NASA Goddard yesterday and called on NASA to restore a robotic servicing mission to Hubble. Hoyer, whose district includes Goddard, said that the robotic servicing plan, dropped by NASA at the beginning of this year, “is a very important mission for us to continue and complete.” NASA associate administrator (and former Goddard director) Al Diaz, on the same tour, reiterated that “We don’t intend on servicing it, that’s where we are.” Hoyer, it should be noted, is the minority whip, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the House.

12 comments to Hubble makes for strange bedfellows

  • John Malkin

    NASA has its priorities and the only way to change them is for congress to clearly state them. Congress told NASA to fix Hubble or at least leave the option open but than gave NASA the rights to move the money all over the place.

    Has anyone talked about adding optical capabilities to JWST? Is there something with the mirrors that would make that impossible? I know there would still be a gap between Hubble and JWST but Hubble won’t last forever.

  • Mr Earl

    John is right. Another option would be to build a new telescope around the instraments used for the servicing mission. I would prefer to get the ISS finished and the shuttle retired as soon as posible to get on with developing the CEV.

  • Earl (and John),

    JWST is not made to enable optical measurements. HST SM4 instrument rehosting is definitely a better option.

    Another option would be to do the Shuttle mission for HST and offload ISS-bound cargo onto commercial logistics services such as those offered by Spacehab, Kistler, SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed, and CSI. To name a few.

    In that way, you would not increase the number of Shuttle flights.

    We will see.

    – Jim

  • “offload ISS-bound cargo onto commercial logistics services such as those offered by Spacehab, Kistler, SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed, and CSI. To name a few.”

    Why didn’t we do this long ago?

  • Darwin

    CSI doesn’t have any products to offer. Just vugraphs.

  • Tevan Dijoian

    “Why didn’t we do this long ago?”

    It is not simple to do. Shuttle missions to ISS mix the different kinds of cargo together. They might put a large component in the shuttle bay and then fill it with logistics supplies as well (like water). Take the logistics supplies out of the component and you don’t eliminate the need for that mission.

  • Bill White

    To offload ISS-bound cargo onto commercial logistics services is a terrific idea. So why can’t we offload whole ISS payloads to whatever lift we intend to use for the VSE and Moon-Mars?

    Reduce the required number of orbiter flights, whether we use SDV or EELV enchanced (30MT+ Delta IV with the small solid boosters, RL-60, etc. . .)

  • TORO

    “Core ethic”? … “an ethic that prevailed”? …

    Well Apollo was a more ethical vehicle than Shuttle, in fact crash dummy tested ahead of the automakers, but now now behind.

    Ethics? Congress almost overnight tried to insert a feed tube down a citizen American who may be somewhat brain dead. But years and years have passed and where is the new crash dummy tested LEO transprot for the American civil servant at work for the nation astronaut?

    I have always thought astronauts are a bit crazy, but I was wrong again. The American Astronaut is not crazy, but instead simply completely brain dead.

  • Harold LaValley

    For the reuse of the instruments that were Hubble bound. There is the HUBBLE Origins Probe (HOP) http://www.pha.jhu.edu/hop/ but there seems to be no funding for its work as being the third way to rescue Hubble.

  • William Berger

    “There is the HUBBLE Origins Probe (HOP) but there seems to be no funding for its work as being the third way to rescue Hubble.”

    HOP is actually one of at least three proposals for rehosting the two Hubble instruments that were scheduled to be installed during SM5. The other two are HORUS and HIFEX.

    Both HOP and HORUS were funded as part of NASA’s “Origins Probe” study. This was essentially a study to identify “mid-size” astronomy programs focused on the origins of the universe, stars, black holes, etc. The purpose of the study was to determine if there were possible missions that NASA was missing because they were two expensive for the Explorer class program but not as big as the flagship class missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope. The projects were not to exceed a $670 million cost cap, including launch vehicle. Simply put: HOP is not even an official proposal to NASA, merely a study.

    It is possible that something like HOP, HORUS or HIFEX will eventually be funded by NASA. However, that is unlikely to happen until after Hubble dies. Unfortunately, some of these proposals bank on using the existing Hubble ground infrastructure. So if Hubble dies in 2008 and a replacement is not launched until 2013 or later (about five years development is reasonable for such a craft), a lot of that infrastructure may be lost, so there would be additional costs.

  • Matthew Brown

    “Why didn’t we do this long ago?”

    Well we did have option close (SHuttle-Z configuration), but in the 80’s NASA needed to justifiy the exsistance of the shuttle (And to some justify the existance of NASA), so they designed the Space Station around the deleivery vehical. Instead of the other way around.

    Question is would it have been cheaper to do that way? My gut says yes, but with redtape and fiefdoms that arise within large buracuacies(sp) might have been just as expensive.

  • Leonard Robinson

    Leonard to the Space Politics Forum: greetings on Columbia’s, & Challenger’s, graves.

    Over the years, we have seen NASA criticized in the Media as a waste of money while the needs of the cities & schools (among others) are unmet.

    It is time that the HHS and similar bureauracries that waste their money on admin while their operations budgets starve are brought to book. Yes, the process will be harsh and politically unsound. Yet at the end of the day, we shall have monies for NASA.