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Hubble lives on!

NASA has extended the contract with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland to operate the Hubble Space Telescope for another five years, through 2021.

Launched in 1990 and repaired for the first time in 1993, Hubble appears likely to operate for more than three decades, a stunning record for any spacecraft.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

4 comments

  • mpthompson

    The Hubble is a marvelous and stunning piece of equipment. It would be great to see NASA contract out one or more private repair and refurbishment missions to Hubble in 2021 along the lines of COTS. It would spur private space to develop EVA and a host of other capabilities. I realize that a capsule such as Dragon isn’t nearly as capable as the shuttle with regards to grappling Hubble, but I believe the significant repairs were done to Skylab by an Apollo capsule before the station was occupied. Hubble would offer a similar challenge.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    Kudos to the many people who worked on Hubble over the years and its servicing missions.

  • LocalFluff

    Maybe they should design 100 year spacecrafts?

  • Edward

    LocalFluff,
    You have an excellent point. Up to now, we really have not had much ability to perform maintenance and repair on satellites or to refuel them with stationkeeping and attitude control propellants. Added to that the rapidity at which technology on satellites becomes obsolete and no one has really had much incentive to make long-lived satellites.

    As we have learned to maintain and update the Hubble Space Telescope, we have increased the incentive to make the basic telescopic optics last as long as Earth-based observatories, and as with Earth-based observatories, the instruments attached can be updated, replaced, or repaired as necessary. Now that we are figuring out how to refuel satellites, it should not be long before the 100-year spacecraft would be very desirable.

    mpthompson,
    if one of the 50 foot (fully extended, but folds up into a shorter length) Canadarms (Shuttle Remote Manipulator System arms from the space shuttle) does not fit in the Dragon’s trunk, which seems to be only 24 feet long, perhaps one could be made that does fit. That should help with any future Hubble servicing missions.

    This is what I mean, whenever I say that having 300 million Americans, or seven billion people worldwide, creating new ideas is better than having one committee thinking about them. People on this one site alone keep presenting good and interesting ideas for things to do in space or ways to improve our space exploration. It’s one of the reasons that I love reading everyone’s comments. This is the only website where I regularly read the comments. Sometimes they are even better than Robert’s original commentary. (Sorry, Robert, but you have some really smart, inspired, and thoughtful readers. Consider it as “too much success.”)

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