NASA is soliciting ideas on how to use the two Cold War era telescopes given to the space agency by the military.

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

NASA is soliciting ideas on how to use the two Cold War era telescopes given to the space agency by the military.

Both telescopes are comparable in size to the Hubble Space Telescope.



  • Steve mac

    Perhaps they could focus on Washington D.C and determine if there is intelligent life there.

  • Maybe they can trade them for whatever NERVA plans and hardware are still around.

  • Pzatchok

    Make them a huge pair of binoculars. Seriously.

    Offer them up as a combined project for astronomy students to work on, then install them on the space station.
    They can ask for material donations from companies around the world and then ask for donations to offset the launch cost.

    Their combined collecting ability should be pretty good.
    And since it will be attached to the station changing out sensor packages, as better ones are offered, should be pretty easy if designed right.
    Well at least easier than if it was free floating.

  • Actually, there are serious technical reasons why a space telescope should not be installed on ISS. The vibrations from the astronauts moving around as well as the minor gas releases from the station itself would make observations difficult if not impossible. This fact was realized many years ago by astronomers while designing the Hubble Space Telescope.

    Moreover, putting the telescope on the station would not really be that much easier, and in fact in some ways would be harder. You’d still have to get new instruments into orbit. You’d have to rendezvous and dock with ISS. And you’d still need a spacewalk to install the new instruments, as the telescopes would be quite large and not inside the station. You’d also have the same precise pointing requirements, with the additional requirement of somehow pointing the telescope independent of the orientation of ISS.

    Turning the two telescopes into binoculars however is a great idea. See for example the Large Binocular Telescope, already in operation.

  • Pzatchok

    I figured the vibrations would have been a problem then, but thought possibly, with todays digital technology, something like frame stabilization would fix it.

    But either way keeping them on the ground is not a good idea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *