Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another Hubble Repair Mission?

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990.  Over the last 27 years it has produced an amazing number of amazing images and helped astronomers answer many astronomical questions and continues to do so to this day.  Over this time there have been five service repair missions to Hubble in which astronauts added new instruments and fixed some of the moving parts that keep the telescope operational.  There was a lot of debate after the Columbia shuttle explosion in 2003 as to whether it was worth it to send up a fifth service mission.  Eventually a fifth service mission was approved and took place in 2009.  Without another service mission instruments will eventually break down with wear and tear and Hubble will no longer be operational.  The current plan is to continue to use Hubble as long as possible with no new service mission planned.

There are now hints...very preliminary hints, that the Trump administration may approve funding for a 6th service repair mission.  Don't get me wrong, I disagree with Trump on pretty much every issue, but funding to keep Hubble operational is a good thing.  To be clear, these are just hints that don't even approach preliminary plans.  Even if funding was approved, we currently do not have a spacecraft that can send a mission to Hubble.  It's likely the private space industry will come into play here.  For more details, and by details I basically mean hints and/or rumors, you can read the very short article on this here:

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