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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

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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.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • 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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