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Hubble returned to science operations

Engineers today completed their testing of their computer hardware fix on the Hubble Space Telescope and took it out of safe mode, allowing science observations to resume after more than a month.

The first observation is scheduled for Saturday afternoon after some instrument calibrations are completed. Most observations missed while science operations were suspended will be rescheduled for a later date.

Now let us all pray that there are no more major failures for the next few years until the U.S. capabilities in space grow and a relatively fast mission to repair the telescope is possible.

Conscious Choice cover

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.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and 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.


  • Mark

    Behind the black comments

    Hey NASA, if you can throw 5 million for review of Nuclear engines, how about you ask your contracting team to start the bidding process for “the development of various design strategies for the specified performance requirements” to service Hubble in the next 3-5 years?
    Just to recap previous posts, a Manned version of Starship, the Dream Chaser, and Dragon are potential answers to be used to upgrade Hubble when it eventually goes dark in the next few years.
    Most probably Starship will be the “space station on the go” that would have the capability needed at the most competitive price. Let’s see some competition!

  • Ray Van Dune

    The idea of an orbiting refuel/repair station could be quit attractive not just to the Space Telescope, but also to sats that have high maneuverability and are able to rendezvous with it. Imagine the X-37B with the ability to refuel and refresh payloads without landing. A manned Starship would do the trick nicely.

  • Lee Stevenson

    An intriguing idea… Bob, do you think there is any spacecraft in development right now that could service the Hubble?

  • Lee Stevenson: Every manned spacecraft, as well as several unmanned robots, both existing and in development right now, could service Hubble.

    All however would require major refitting to do the job. Dragon needs a robot arm, doesn’t have an airlock, and has other limitations. It was not designed with such a task in mind. Similar issues exist with Starliner.

    Northrop Grumman’s MEV robot for extending the life of geosynchronous satellites demonstrates that robots could do the job, but once again, it was not engineered to work on Hubble, and a new robot entirely would have to be designed and built.

    And then we come to Starship. The rocket puts so much payload into orbit that it could very easily be outfitted for this job. First however it needs to become an operational rocket and spaceship. And once again, even then it would still have to be specifically adapted to the task.

    Fixing Hubble is doable, but we must not underestimate the engineering required to do it. This is not like Star Trek, where they fire the dohicky to upload the quantum energy to reactivate the computer, all in five seconds of calculation. This is reality, and it is hard and challenging.

    Which of course is why it is so much fun to do.

  • A. Nonymous

    Absent a Canadarm, which is very expensive and requires several years of lead time, are there simpler plans available for securing the Hubble to a larger craft so it can be worked on without risk of starting a nasty spin?

  • Jeff Wright

    Dragon XL atop a fuel fat hypergolic upper stage launched by Falcon Heavy. Move Hubble to ISS, leave module to empty trash. Fix Hubble at ISS.

    Simplist option. The Shuttle orbiter had stabilizing mass. Capsules don’t…it might bang against Hubbles flank. Capture from the back and thrust it to ISS…where the dog wags the tail.

  • Robert noted: “This is reality, and it is hard and challenging. Which of course is why it is so much fun to do.”

    And as good an advertisement for Engineering School as can be. Engineers don’t have the ‘best’ jobs, or the most lucrative, but they do some of the coolest work; defined as ‘making things happen’.

  • wayne

    Star Trek Original Series: “Obsession”
    “Cross-circuiting to B….”

  • James Street

    Wayne, the man with a video for every occasion. Cross-circuiting to B works every time. Even got the red shirt back.

    Congratulations to the Hubble team. Fixing bugs is fun. I imagine the packed conference room with higher ups sitting around the table and everyone else lining the walls as subject matter experts presented data and theories and the resulting discussions.

  • wayne

    Blair deserves full credit for that particular ST clip. (and yeah, I’m of a mind that there exists a clip, for most everything. Finding them however, is always a challenge, especially now…)

    General Question:
    When does the Webb telescope launch? IIRC it’s like’ on Halloween?

    here we go….

    Russian Cosmonaut scene
    “This is how we fix problems…..”

  • Rodney

    Here is my suggestion for a Hubble repair mission. Modify a Dragon Cargo craft. It will have an extendable structure in the trunk with a rudimentary arm. Cargo Dragon will carry the bulky EVA suits and other equipment. This configuration is launched to rendezvous with Hubble. Another crewed Dragon launches later and rendezvous with the cargo Dragon and they dock nose to nose. The double Dragon then grabs the Hubble and connects the telescope to the extended attach structure. The repair astronauts enter the cargo Dragon and put on the EVA suits. The cargo Dragon will act as the airlock. The astronauts exit via the side hatch to perform their work. Replacement parts will be in both the cargo and crew trunks. With repair over, both Dragons will reenter. The cargo dragons will return the space suits and other parts for study. The crew Dragon will return the crew. The arm and Hubble base will be disposed with the trunks.

  • Edward

    James Street wrote: “Fixing bugs is fun.

    Well, they might make for nice “war stories,” but at the time there is much concern and worry.

    I once worked in the department that built a solar X-ray telescope that flew on the SOHO satellite. Early in the mission a bad command caused the satellite to go into safe mode. It took a while for the controllers and satellite experts to recover it back to operations, but in the meantime we were worried that our telescope had been damaged from cold temperatures. Fortunately, after SOHO was recovered and back in service, the telescope resumed normal operations with out any apparent damage.

    I imagine the packed conference room with higher ups sitting around the table and everyone else lining the walls as subject matter experts presented data and theories and the resulting discussions.

    I’ve been to one of those, with NASA on the line troubleshooting a problem with the deployment of the original American solar arrays (they were sticky). This was before the large rotating end trusses that they have now (I was working on the motor that rotates them). I was one of those who was lining the wall. Typically, this type of meeting happens after there has been a lot of analysis and discussion on possible causes and solutions but that there is not yet enough information to know which solution to try, so they may do some amount of trouble shooting in real time.

    As the subject matter experts (the cognizant engineers) listened and watched on a screen, they saw that the second array was just as sticky as the first, which had been deployed a few days earlier. They had just concluded that the astronaut should try a slower deployment speed when the astronaut made the same suggestion to the CapCom. A moment later a voice from NASA was on the speaker phone repeated the astronaut’s question. Having the answer ready, the lead engineer said “yes,” and a few seconds later we could hear the CapCom tell the astronaut to give it a try. The solution worked fairly well.

    The problem turned out to be that these solar arrays had been stored for longer than originally intended or designed. This caused one of the materials to become sticky. Launch delays can result in a variety of problems.

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