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Hubble Stops Sending Data, Mission On Hold

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the try-to-do-as-little-dying-as-possible dept.

Space 141

mknewman writes to tell us that NASA is no longer receiving data from the Hubble Space Telescope, which could possibly delay the shuttle launch planned just two weeks from now. There is a backup system installed which may be used instead of training the astronauts on the installation of the new component, but that would itself leave no fallback option. "NASA is reviewing whether the mission should be delayed a couple of months so that plans can be made to send up a replacement part for the failed component, said NASA spokesman Michael Curie. It would take time to test and qualify the old replacement part and train the astronauts to install it in the telescope, Curie said. NASA also would have to work out new mission details for the astronauts who have trained for two years to carry out five Hubble repair spacewalks."

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Thwack it... (4, Funny)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196721)

Ah, just give it good ol' emergency repair plan "A." If that doesn't work, send up Richard Dean Andersen with some duct tape.

Re:Thwack it... (4, Funny)

Lectoid (891115) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196755)

Comon, we all know you have to send Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones. Space Cowboys was a documentary, right?

Re:Thwack it... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196829)

They only know how to fix old Russian satellites, so they would have to be completely re-trained to handle the Hubble. Besides, we'd have to send a rocket all the way to the moon to retrieve Tommy Lee Jones after he rode the other satellite there.

Of course, he's probably been captured by the moon men and made to toil in their underground mines by now, so trying to get him may end up being more trouble than its worth.

Re:Thwack it... (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196765)

I'm sure they did the equivalent of "thwacking it". But the "thwack" repair method seldom lasts long.

"Thwack it" is for things like the martian hoopties Spirit and Opportunity ("Hoopties" because they're WAY out of warrantee) that you can't send a mechanic to fix.

Or us rednecks with broken cars and even broker wallets; I fixed a heater hose with duct tape on a '74 LeMans, and it still held leak-free when I sold the old junker three years later. You don't fix Rolls Royces or Hubble Telescopes with duct tape!

Re:Thwack it... (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196907)

I'm sure they did the equivalent of "thwacking it". But the "thwack" repair method seldom lasts long.

"Thwack it" is for things like the martian hoopties Spirit and Opportunity ("Hoopties" because they're WAY out of warrantee) that you can't send a mechanic to fix.

Or us rednecks with broken cars and even broker wallets; I fixed a heater hose with duct tape on a '74 LeMans, and it still held leak-free when I sold the old junker three years later. You don't fix Rolls Royces or Hubble Telescopes with duct tape!

For that, you use something high quality, like Gaffer Tape [wikipedia.org] !

Re:Thwack it... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198549)

Disclosure: Non-active United States Marine.

I was actually thinking 100 MPH Tape [imsplus.com] myself. I still have dozens of rolls that somehow ended up falling off a truck at Quantico (I was motorpool) and ended up in my apartment. At one time I had hundreds of rolls. I'm not sure if that's the same stuff there (I suspect that it isn't at that price) but you *can* tape ANYTHING. Not really anything but it is amazing at how strong that stuff is.

A buddy of mine taped his skateboard with it after it had broken in half. It wasn't perfect but he was still able to ride it for a lot longer than we'd expected. The deer in Virginia are tiny little critters but I've taped one to the front of a humvee and driven across very rough terrain to bring it back for dinner. It has held vacuum lines tight and hydraulic lines sealed (for a little while). It's great stuff.

Again, I have my doubts as to the authenticity of the tape on the page there but, well, you might be able to find an ex-soldier who's willing to part with a couple of rolls for a small donation to his beer fund and get the real stuff. My first exposure to it was from rolls that had been captured during the Vietnam War by another enterprising Marine though, of course, I wasn't in the Marines then. This stuff was MANY years old by that point. It still worked. Well.

Re:Thwack it... (5, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196937)

the "thwack" repair method seldom lasts long

Almost three years ago, our dishwasher (which was only a year old at the time) stopped working. After a bit of troubleshooting I determined that the solenoid valve in the water intake was shot - my multimeter indicated that it was receiving an electrical signal, but the valve wouldn't open so the dishwasher couldn't fill.

I whacked it with a hammer and it's been working flawlessly ever since.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197041)

key word is "seldom". I have to take my clothes dryer apart; I'm sure it's a relay or solenoid, and I'm going to try the "thwack it" method of repair before shelling out for a new part.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197237)

Meh, my washer/dryer started popping and sparking on Saturday and was still doing so as I dived across the kitchen floor to pull the plug.

I think it's beyond thwackable.

Re:Thwack it... (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197363)

Probably, but whether the cure is a good thwack or electrical tape, you still have to take the thing apart.

It sounds like some waterproofing dried up and cracked and caused a short when water got in it. A little duct tape and electrical tape may be all you need.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198621)

Meh.. It is petty, I know, but it pisses me off when I see stuff labeled with, "No user servicable parts inside." It started showing up on stuff when the term "Solid State" got added to stuff. They just underestimate the power of the user.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197465)

That's just about the classic selenoid-repair method for pretty much anything. Works similar on cars - if your battery is good and it won't turn over, thwack the selenoid before heading to the starter.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

Mascot (120795) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197911)

Almost three years ago, our dishwasher (which was only a year old at the time) stopped working.

One year old and you didn't get a free repair or replacement? I recently had most of the innards of my tumble dryer swapped out free of charge when it failed. That thing was almost four years old.

Or you were you just looking for an excuse to use a hammer. :P

Re:Thwack it... (3, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198013)

Option 1: Phone the manufacturer, arrange for a service call, take time off work to make sure I'm home, make small talk with a technician for 30-60 minutes while he diagnoses the same problem I already found, listen in disbelief when he tells me he doesn't have the appropriate part on hand, arrange for another service call, take more time off work ....

Option 2: Hit the solenoid with a hammer.

Re:Thwack it... (4, Interesting)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198179)

I once saw some old video from one of the Apollo landings where the color wheel on one of the fixed cameras got stuck. Ground control asks one of the astronauts to take a look at it, and he slowly bounces over to it and THWACK - hits it with a gloved hand and gets the color wheel unstuck. If anyone knows where I can find that on the web, let me know... it's one of my favorite Apollo clips.

Re:Thwack it... (2, Funny)

smaddox (928261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198225)

I'm unaware of any solenoid valves on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

rev_g33k_101 (886348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197517)

the "thwack" repair method seldom lasts long.

This is what us northerners call "Percussive Maintenance" this way it sounds like something you would be willing to pay for :D

Re:Thwack it... (1)

orielbean (936271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197193)

Or Fonzie to fix the jukebox...

Re:Thwack it... (2, Funny)

code_monkey_steve (651206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197229)

If that doesn't work, send up Richard Dean Andersen with some duct tape.

Wouldn't an F-302 [wikipedia.org] be more useful than duct-tape?

Wait, which show are we referencing, again?

Re:Thwack it... (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197493)

Both... Richard Dean Anderson has made several McGyver references in SG-1.

Now to your question: No not really. A F-302 doesn't have any type of airlock. A Tel'tak or an Al'kesh is probably what you'd need.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

code_monkey_steve (651206) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197685)

The duct-tape threw me off, and I didn't think Hubble would fit in the transport-rings or ring-room on the Tel'tak. Maybe an Al'kesh or Daedalus would have enough room and could beam it aboard. Or, just duct-tape it to an F-302. ;)

Good thing we have NASA to figure out details like this.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197305)

Or just send up McGuyver with a straw, a paperclip and a rubber band.

Everyone knows Duct Tape is just McGuyvers way of saying "Jesus people, I can only be in 5 places at once."

Re:Thwack it... (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197453)

Ah, just give it good ol' emergency repair plan "A." If that doesn't work, send up Richard Dean Andersen with some duct tape.

... sorry, he couldn't get through the airport security checks with his Swiss Army Knife ...

... and without that, he's useless ...

Re:Thwack it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197599)

We need some Asguard technology.

Re:Thwack it... (1)

SmurfButcher Bob (313810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197971)

That long in space, we'll need assguard technology, too.

Re:Thwack it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197665)

Ah, just give it good ol' emergency repair plan "A." If that doesn't work, send up Richard Dean Andersen with some duct tape.

It's in mourning over the stock fallout and the unpassed bailout vote in the US House.

Tagged "oops" (2, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196747)

Let's see if it sticks.

I dearly love NASA but, well, it is going to get harder to convince the public to continue funding if they have an impression of a high failure rate.

Re:Tagged "oops" (5, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196961)

High failure rate?! The HST is a very complex spacecraft. Parts wear out and break. That's why spacecraft are designed with redundant systems. HST was designed to be repaired and upgraded in-orbit, and has already exceeded its design lifetime. In the real world, components fail and increased reliability is not free. Spacecraft engineering is a balancing act. You want to accomplish the mission with minimum cost and a relatively high probability of success. Spacecraft projects that can't manage risks and costs get canceled. There is a limited pool of money and NASA has a responsibility to get the most scientific bang for the buck.

Re:Tagged "oops" (0, Redundant)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197085)

just posting to kill the accidental redundant mod that I made... it was supposed to be "insightful"!

Re:Tagged "oops" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197393)

K Band Data link to TDRSS appears to have gone "Tits Up". There is a redundant system, but it has not been powered up sense before launch so it might or might not work. When the commands are sent to bring up the "B" side, lots and lots of fingers will be crossed. There's no reason for the redundant "B" side to not work, but HST has been up there a long long time.

I haven't read where any information related to what failed in the HS link, could be as simple as power supply or as complex as a the Traveling Wave Tubes which give gain to the the link.

If the Redundant side does not come up, things could get real interesting.

Re:Tagged "oops" (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197701)

"impression of" -- key words

Impression of doesn't mean that they have a high fail rate. Only that Joe Sixpack only notices the bad news on the television. Somehow I got modded flamebait 'cause people don't actually read so very well.

Re:Tagged "oops" (1)

paazin (719486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198093)

I modded it +1 insightful (before I opted to respond) and, really, I expected that the slashdot community would pick up on that subtlety.


It's exactly cases like this that opponents of NASA call upon when they want to cut its budget (and have done so successfully for years - it's been getting better but it's still not even as high as it was in the early 90's). It's not fair in the least, of course, and one should retort with facts - but sadly that's not how American politics works.

Re:Tagged "oops" (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198319)

Our politics work in that the general populace actually votes quite well for a country that doesn't mandate voting by law. By quite well, I mean turns out to vote. Unfortunately they tend to remain woefully ignorant so long as they have their beer and sports on television or celebrity gossip. As far as subtlety goes, I didn't really think it was subtle at all? I'm not sure how almost everyone misconstrued it to conclude that I was somehow postulating that the failure rate was in fact high. Hell, I have the karma to spare surely but still... I'd have hoped for better reading comprehension.

Limited pool of money (1)

Peaker (72084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197787)

There is a limited pool of money

The pool of money is limited, but only by the level of debt [google.com] . NASA could simply burrow some more :-)

Re:Tagged "oops" (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196979)

Yeah, cause the HST's just been a fountain of failures since it was lanched in 1990.

Seriously, outside of that mirror bit early on, we've serviced the Hubble thrice. And it's up there in one of the most extreme environments imaginable. I can't imagine a piece of kit on Earth surviving 18+ years with only five service calls.

Re:Tagged "oops" (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197471)

I can't imagine a piece of kit on Earth surviving 18+ years with only five service calls.

The Panasonic portable TV I left in a house I moved out of in 2004 or 5 (Paxil withdrawal, home foreclosure, bankrupcy, it's diaried at K5 somewhere) was the same one I watched Niel and Buzz land on the moon with!

It had two repairs, despite falling out of moving vehicles, dropped, and suffering other indignities: The insulation on the power cord cracked and caused a short (fixed with electrical tape) and the tuner knob broke (fixed by using pliars to change channels).

They don't make 'em like they used to.

Re:Tagged "oops" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197707)

They don't require you to manually tune channels like they used to either.

An increased feature set denotes an increase in complexity. There's not that many things that can go wrong with a cathode ray tube in a chunky box.

Re:Tagged "oops" (2, Funny)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197751)

I can't imagine a piece of kit on Earth surviving 18+ years with only five service calls.

The Panasonic portable TV I left in a house I moved out of in 2004 or 5 (Paxil withdrawal, home foreclosure, bankrupcy, it's diaried at K5 somewhere) was the same one I watched Niel and Buzz land on the moon with!

It had two repairs, despite falling out of moving vehicles, dropped, and suffering other indignities: The insulation on the power cord cracked and caused a short (fixed with electrical tape) and the tuner knob broke (fixed by using pliars to change channels).

They don't make 'em like they used to.

So you're saying we should send that television into space?

Re:Tagged "oops" (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197743)

Please re-read my post. All of it. It isn't long or complicated or anything. "Impression of" -- those would be the key words. Not that they're high rates, only that people only get fed the bad stuff on their nightly news or morning radio talk show and that means that NASA doesn't sound so good to the uninformed.

Re:Tagged "oops" (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198493)

it's up there in one of the most extreme environments imaginable.

Is it? I thought it was in space. You know, no wind, no rain, no monkeys, no bacteria.
Now - on the surface of Venus - that's inhospitable. Inside a volcano - same. But in the silent, floaty calm of space?

Re:Tagged "oops" (2, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197005)

My understanding was that Hubble had a life expectancy of 20 years. It was launched in 1990, so going dark in 2008 is perhaps a little premature but hardly what I'd call a failure.

Re:Tagged "oops" (2, Informative)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197113)

My understanding was that Hubble had a life expectancy of 20 years.

From where do you understand this?
Design Life: Designed for a 15 year life with on-orbit servicing. http://www.aerospaceguide.net/hubblespacetelescope.html [aerospaceguide.net]
And naturally things would be going better if on-orbit servicing was still considered a regular option.

Re:Tagged "oops" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197291)

HST was scheduled to fly in Oct '86 when Challenger blew up. It sat in a clean room, powered up and purged with nitrogen, for 3-4 years before flight. The wait wasn't so kind to Galileo, her high gain antenna wouldn't unfurl after all that time and there would be no possible servicing mission.

Re:Tagged "oops" (4, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197143)

This is just bullshit. All that has happened is a primary unit had failed, after close to 20 years of flight (not to mention the grossly excessive "shelf life" resulting from the Challenger launch delay). They have a backup, that's what it is there for. And this is hardly a high failure rate, we have already gotten more than it was designed for.

        Brett

Re:Tagged "oops" (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197795)

"impression of"

Seems /. is having issues with the whole sentences today. It isn't that I think it has a high failure rate. It is that when Joe Sixpack only gets the news of bad things concerning NASA and sees the debt that the country is in he's going to start getting antsy.

Re:Tagged "oops" (5, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197317)

I dearly love NASA but, well, it is going to get harder to convince the public to continue funding if they have an impression of a high failure rate.

Um, it was launched in 1990. Anyone who thinks NASA is incompetent simply because their stuff doesn't last "enough decades" has an unwinable vote anyway. I love NASA a lot less than you, but I sure as hell don't see this as serious anti-NASA propaganda fuel.

Re:Tagged "oops" (4, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197873)

The masses aren't very bright and they're allowed to vote and call their congress critters. Hell, look at all the people who responded somehow managing to conclude that I thought that this was a high failure rate. I worry about NASA in this day and age. With the impending lapse of manned flight and a potential to not have access to the space station I worry that we're falling behind. If, for no other reason than moral, we needed the space program at first. Today we need it just to keep up.

When I was a kid the entire family or the entire school would gather around to watch the launches live. Today you seldom get those launches on your major channels and the only coverage is failure. I don't know how many people who've said stuff like, "We don't need a space program." Granted, these are likely the same people who say stuff like, "Let's bomb Iran next, serves them Arabs right." The problem is that they vote and are allowed to.

I hold a special place in my heart for NASA or space programs in general. You ask a kid what they want to be today and they want to be a rap star. When I was young we all wanted to be astronauts. The only time they see or hear about space is when goes wrong or, worse, blows up and kills people.

Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (5, Funny)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196753)

After all the Hubble is less responsible for its state than Wall street is for where it ended up!

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (4, Informative)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196849)

Unfortunately, Congress dropping 700 Billion on Wall Street might end up cutting into NASA's budget, along with several other programs.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196883)

I hadn't caught up with the headlines, perhaps with the defeat of the bail out bill, my previous post will be moot.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (0, Offtopic)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197151)

OT, but thank goodness for the sudden breakout of common sense in the congress. Sadly, I expect the corporate welfare will eventually happen, saddled with a workable mix of 10s of billions to the pockets of Democratic supporters, and 10s of billions to the pockets of GOP supporters. This is the biggest cookie jar since social security, and I can't imagine the congresscritters keeping their hands out of it.

I don't usually use the phrase "corporate welfare" but there's no other way to describe this. Yeah, the government should act where it can to stop market panicks from taking out the good companies with the bad, but the bad companies need to die here. There are (relatively) honest and responsible banks out there, and they need to come out way ahead from this mess, to send the proper lesson to corporate officers industry-wide.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (1, Offtopic)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197361)

Agreed. I'm nervous about what the ramifications are of letting these companies fail. If we can let them fail, let the stock market adjust reasonably, and not dry up the credit markets, then I fully support this.

Unfortunately, most of the "experts", most of whom support this bill, also have significant stakes in getting the government to pump 700 bil into the market.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197417)

I particularly like Warren Buffet's reasoned analysis: "I just sank billions into Goldmen Sacks - we need moar bailout nao!!!"

The panick over motgage-backed securities has largely subsided. The only reaosn there's no market for these securities today is that no one wants to sell them at market value when they expect the government to step in and buy them up at significantly above market value.

My bank isn't in trouble - is yours?

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (1, Offtopic)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197609)

Their stock certainly isn't doing well. But, you are correct. There are market forces that should be allowed to play out here. Some poorly run companies need to be allowed to fail, and the market will adjust to move around these securities.

The question is how much damage it'll do to the market in the interim. That said, it'll do far less damage if the government makes their position clear and allows the market to do it's thing, rather than the limbo we're in now.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197371)

Wow, there must have been a double helping of crack with the mod points today. "Offtopic" certainly, but "flamebait" does *not* mean "I disagree". Flamebait looks like this, you foul-smelling pigfuckers of dubious ancestry.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (5, Informative)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197449)

As a comparison the entire Apollo program cost about 135 Billion (in 2005 Dollars).

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25198491)

So..a little more than $700 Billion now?

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (1)

BAM0027 (82813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197691)

The government's abilities to use finances in creative ways of thwarting science (in particular) continue to amaze me. I was just listening to a broadcast this morning on NPR (KPBS) of "These Days" which discussed various ways, both active and passive, of manipulating research counter to progress [kpbs.org] .

If you get the chance to listen to it, lemme know what you think.

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197773)

Unfortunately, Congress dropping 700 Billion on Wall Street might end up cutting into NASA's budget, along with several other programs.

Not to worry. We can always print more money!

Re:Congress Bail out the Hubble *NOW* (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197179)

Yes, but the Hubble still needs a bail out.

This only means one thing... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25196759)

Invasion.

Re:This only means one thing... (0, Redundant)

jfbilodeau (931293) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196963)

I for one welcome our new Hubble-Telescope-Disabling overlords!

(Please forgive me...You know that someone had to say that!)

God damnit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25196771)

who the hell kicked out the Hubble's ethernet cable? You damn well better go up there and fix it!

Better to have it fail now... (5, Insightful)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196807)

... than after the repair mission.

Re:Better to have it fail now... (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196895)

Sorta lowers expectations doesn't it?
Makes me wonder about that near-future 5-year gap where the US will have no way to get up there and repair our assets in space (like the Hubble)??...
Maybe China and their space program are rising to the challenge so we can outsource out space program to them (as well as manufacturing, etc...) ...At least I can say that I was made in the USA!

Re:Better to have it fail now... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197135)

Well, arguably you are correct, assuming they can fix the problem on a single repair mission. There is now so much that needs fixing that they may need to make two missions to Hubble. (The fact that NASA claims this is the "final repair mission" and yet is going to insist on installing a docking port... That's a strong hint to me that they see nothing final about this at all. Why add a docking port if there's nothing in future that is going to dock with it?)

The current updates from NASA suggest that module A is unrecoverable from the ground and that they are having serious problems accessing module B. The only spare module they have, apparently, is in storage and hasn't been tested or maintained. (This repair mission should therefore be called Murphy's Wakeup Call And Coffee Service.)

My concern is that if module B can't be used, or has deteriorated severely under radiation, they will be utterly dependent on a single backup system which might not even work. Hubble's instruments can only be accessed if at least one module is up and running. Really, under such conditions, both modules should be replaced with fully tested and burned-in modules from Earth, but NASA doesn't appear to have that many spares.

My other concern is that the delay in the repair mission (which is unnecessary since the failure doesn't impact any of their other operations, there's a good chance they couldn't add the replacement operation to their current list of activities) is for political reasons. If enough bits stop working or fall off, they don't need to repair it at all. The upper echelons never wanted the repair mission, they were forced into it, so permanently delaying the mission is the best way to look like they're complying without having to do so. (Oh, they SAY they want to repair it, now, but they're now in the position where they must either do two repair missions or abandon Hubble completely, and they're showing no signs of opting for the former.)

Besides, if ground control can't switch to module B then getting an astronaut up there to see why would be obviously better than sitting around philosophizing over whether to dust off the spare. No point in taking the spare up if it isn't the module itself that has failed but the junction to it, and you need an on-site tech to find things like that out. The problems with switching over would actually hint at a problem in the system prior to the modules themselves. Once you know what needs replacing, THEN send out a mission to do that. Duh.

Re:Better to have it fail now... (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197321)

The docking port/module is for the expected automated de-orbiting robot that will send Hubble to it's fiery Pacific Ocean doom sometime in the "future"!

Re:Better to have it fail now... (4, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197329)

Why add a docking port if there's nothing in future that is going to dock with it?

To increase its sale value, silly.

Re:Better to have it fail now... (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197943)

OH SHIT that's funny!

Re:Better to have it fail now... (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197347)

I was just thinking that it was so lucky the part failed TWO WEEKS before the last repair mision ever was going to be launched--and lucky that the part was not needed for the safe operation of Hubble. It would have sucked if Hubble had to be de-orbited right before the repair mission. Hopefully, the gyroscopes and other parts necessary to keep the Hubble safely in orbit hold out until the makeup repair session.

With apologies to The Bard (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196841)

Hubble, Hubble, toil and trouble, watch starfire burn with excitement bubble.

Oops? (1, Funny)

MrNiceguy_KS (800771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196847)

Overheard at NASA:

"Dammit, who's turn was it to pay the Dish Network bill?"

HST might still live... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25196951)

HST is not quite dead yet, there is a possibility that on-board backup electronics can be activated. The only problem these backups have not been used in its 18 year lifetime. Hope for the best however...

Oh What the Heck (0, Troll)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25196967)

I have Karma to burn...

Mike broke the Hubble, Mike broke the hubble!

Re:Oh What the Heck (1)

dkarma (985926) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197063)

Into the weenie mobile...weenie man awaaaay!!!

Re:Oh What the Heck (1)

silgaun (1029852) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197109)

Yeah, let's escape under cover of the afternoon in the biggest car in the county

Re:Oh What the Heck (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197475)

Then I ram my ovipositor down your throat, and lay my eggs in your chest. But I'm not an alien!

3F1rst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25196969)

Bandwidth overload? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25196981)

Maybe too many people were using the Hubble's bandwidth once they figured out that was cheaper than text messaging. [slashdot.org]

30 posts and only one truely insightful one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197093)

the rest are jokes. gotta love slashdot.

press conference at 6pm EDT (4, Informative)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197131)

Press conference at 6pm EDT, more info then. Bill Harwood at CBS Spaceplace usually does good writeups, as does Chris Bergin at nasaspaceflight.com , so look over there tonight.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197201)

A communications disruption can mean only one thing...

Invasion.

Privacy Policy changed (1)

root777 (1354883) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197319)

Maybe the Aliens changed their privacy policy to prevent external sources from snooping

OMFG! They hobbled the Hubble (1)

DaveRexel (887813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197369)

Who was up there spacewalking about recently?

No, seriously, shouldn't such venerable hardware get parts-exchange and new firmware-loving from time to time? So a little downtime is acceptable now and then considering the logistics involved...

In case anybody was wondering, because I was. (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197579)

In case anybody was wondering, because I was...

It was launched in 1990 for a 15 year mission, extended to 20 after some servicing. It was expected to last until 2010 (the year we make contact? sorry I could not help it) so its already done its job very well.

As I understand it Interferometry can largely do a better job from the surface, please correct me if I am wrong...

And as pointed out elsewhere they are short on shuttle flights and 700Bn down, so its not looking good for Hubble.

Re:In case anybody was wondering, because I was. (3, Informative)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197893)

(polite correction)...

Saying "Interferometry can do better" makes no sense... similar to saying "RISC can do better" for you computer geeks. It's basically jargon + the phrase can do better. Meaningless without a problem statement and a lot of background info.

In reality, very few optical telescopes can operate in an interferometric mode, and there's a specific class of problems where it's actually useful. Furthermore, I think it would hard to define "better" in this context. FYI there are also preliminary plans out there for formation-flying interferometric space telescopes (none are currently on the map for real funding AFAIK).

In terms of absolute resolution over a small field with just a single telescope (non-interferometric), ground-based Adaptive Optics *can* do better (under certain conditions)... in the near future, they will be able to do significantly better than the Hubble over a much larger range of conditions... -But- there are still PLENTY of things that ONLY a space telescope can do, a buttload of things it does "better", and tons of interesting science that remains to be done.

Re:In case anybody was wondering, because I was. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25198033)

Ground-based methods like interferometry or adaptive optics only work well at long wavelengths, e.g. infrared. In the optical part of the spectrum, HST is the best we've got.

Suspended operations (4, Funny)

MrNougat (927651) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197657)

The Hubble Space Telescope has suspended operations so that it can focus on solving the financial crisis.

Mike Broke The Hubble! (2, Funny)

MuscaDomestica (764805) | more than 5 years ago | (#25197715)

Damn you Nelson Destroyer of Worlds!

Satellite of Love spotted in the area? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25197835)

That is what you get for not letting Gypsy drive.

!deadbeef (1)

condition-label-red (657497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198021)

Sounds like there are redundant systems in place. From the NASA release:

The malfunctioning system is Hubble's Control Unit/Science Data Formatter - Side A. Shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, the telescope's spacecraft computer issued commands to safe the payload computer and science instruments when errors were detected within the Science Data Formatter. An attempt to reset the formatter and obtain a dump of the payload computer's memory was unsuccessful.

Additional testing demonstrates Side A no longer supports the transfer of science data to the ground. A transition to the redundant Side B should restore full functionality to the science instruments and operations.

The transition to Side B operations is complex. It requires that five other modules used in managing data also be switched to their B-side systems. The B-sides of these modules last were activated during ground tests in the late 1980's and/or early 1990, prior to launch. The Hubble operations team has begun work on the Side B transition and believes it will be ready to reconfigure Hubble later this week. The transition will happen after the team completes a readiness review.

Hubble could return to science operations in the immediate future if the reconfiguration is successful. Even so, the agency is investigating the possibility of flying a back-up replacement system, which could be installed during the servicing mission.

Pad 39B (1)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198043)

What I wonder is what are they going to do with Endeavour on LC-39B. It is not necessary to have it there anymore as STS-125 is postponed, but was still going to go up soon for STS-126. Since they can't scuttle the pad now (as they'll need it for the rescheduled STS-125 flight next year), will they just launch from LC-39B? or are they going to do a weird rain dance, moving Atlantis back to the VBA, and Endeavour to LC-39A?

Also, the Constellation folks won't be pleased about Yet Another Delay(TM)...

Sell it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25198055)

There are plenty of countries with an interest in space science that might like to buy it. The U. S. could then take the money it made from the sale, and roll it into more subsidies for "moneyed interests" so it might soon trickle down to the rest of us!

It would be win-win-win, good science would still continue, the ultra-rich would get to buy a few more ivory backscratchers, and when they drop an ice cream cone in the streets, the non-ultra rich would get to lick up the trickled down cream!

The truth is... (1)

Bunderfeld (1113805) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198077)

NASA hasn't just lost communication with Hubble, it's no longer there. An intergallactic Spaceship has entered our system and is currently use other satellites to coordinate a world wide attack. Where's Will Smith when we need him!

Why not just declare the Hubble a loss (1)

hansoloaf (668609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198167)

and build another one and send the new one up.

Or instead of sending up a repair mission... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25198499)

...Send Endeavour up empty, and bring Hubble back home for the Smithsonian Museum.

Don't build another single big space telescope, instead, build a shitload of smaller ones that are still high-powered but can all be networked together and group-focused on distant objects and use today's computational power and interferometry technology to get superior pictures thru parallel data gathering and processing. Launch all these replacements on cheaper, single-purpose individual rockets, and if one or two of the new telescopes fail, it won't kill the whole project, just reduce distance and resolution until replacement units can be launched.

Test your backup systems! (1)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198297)

Work has begun to switch the telescope to the backup channel. It is a complicated process; the backup channels on the various modules that must be switched over have not been turned on since the late 1980s or early 1990, right before Hubble was launched. The Hubble team hopes to complete the job by the end of the week.

I would get in so much trouble if I don't regularly test my backup and failover systems...
 

Where were those Chinese astronauts (1)

Tired and Emotional (750842) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198473)

Could not they have wacked it with a hammer while they were up there?

Or perhaps they did ...

BTW, cnn seems to be slashdotted at present! Slashdot brings cnn to its knees (or perhaps not)

I hope the NASA engineers... (3, Funny)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25198565)

...can find their Windows/386 boot disk...
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