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Hubble operations contract extended to 2026, even as engineers work to fix it

NASA announced today that it has extended the contract for operating the Hubble Space Telescope through 2026, even as it also provided an update on the effort of engineers to bring all the telescope’s science instruments out of safe mode.

[T]he agency has awarded a sole source contract extension to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) in Washington for continued Hubble science operations support at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, which AURA operates for NASA. The award extends Hubble’s science mission through June 30, 2026, and increases the value of the existing contract by about $215 million (for a total of about $2.4 billion).

…Currently, the spacecraft team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is investigating an issue involving missed synchronization messages that caused Hubble to suspend science observations Oct. 25. One of the instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, resumed science observations Nov. 7, and continues to function as expected. All other instruments remain in safe mode.

During the week of Nov. 8, the Hubble team identified near-term changes that could be made to how the instruments monitor and respond to missed synchronization messages, as well as to how the payload computer monitors the instruments. This would allow science operations to continue even if several missed messages occur. The team has also continued analyzing the instrument flight software to verify that all possible solutions would be safe for the instruments.

In the next week, the team will begin to determine the order to recover the remaining instruments. The team expects it will take several weeks to complete the changes for the first instrument.

It appears that it is going to take some time to bring all the instruments back in line, considering that they are fixing the instruments one-by-one, in sequence, and that the first fix is taking weeks. Hopefully as they get each instrument back they will be able to move faster once they know what works.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

4 comments

  • Steve Richter

    Once Starship is shown to be capable of launching into orbit and returning safely, can it then be sent on a repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope?

  • Steve Richter: Just getting to and from orbit is hardly enough to make Starship ready to do a Hubble servicing mission. A lot of additional work needs to be done.

    At the same time, Starship’s capabilities, once operational, make such a repair mission much more feasible. Do not be surprised if it gets proposed down the road, several years from now.

  • Alton

    Has any mention been made of using the deorbiting satellite tugs for boosting Hubble to higher orbit?

  • Edward

    Alton asked: “Has any mention been made of using the deorbiting satellite tugs for boosting Hubble to higher orbit?

    I have not heard of anything, but these tugs may not be the best option. Northrup Grumman has already sent up two successful MEV missions (Mission Extension Vehicles), and they may be better options, as an MEV can also keep Hubble in a stable position after it finally fails and while we wait for a rescue mission, such as a future Starship flight. Remaining in a stable position is desirable while a Canadarm (or similar mechanism) latches onto Hubble for stability during the repair operations.

    Once Hubble is back in operating order, perhaps the Starship can then service the MEV (e.g. refuel) for it to be used on other satellites.

    I have not heard anything about this kind of mission, either.

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