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Equipment Failure May Cut Kepler Mission Short

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the unless-they-can-macgyver-up-a-solution dept.

NASA 76

HyperbolicParabaloid writes "According to the New York Times, an equipment failure on the Kepler spacecraft may mean the end of its planet-hunting mission. One of the reaction wheels that maintains the craft's orientation — critical to long-exposure imaging — has failed. 'In January engineers noticed that one of the reaction wheels that keep the spacecraft pointed was experiencing too much friction. They shut the spacecraft down for a couple of weeks to give it a rest, in the hopes that the wheel’s lubricant would spread out and solve the problem. But when they turned it back on, the friction was still there. Until now, the problem had not interfered with observations, which are scheduled to go on until at least 2016. Kepler was launched with four reaction wheels, but one failed last year after showing signs of erratic friction. Three wheels are required to keep Kepler properly and precisely aimed. Loss of the wheel has robbed it of the ability to detect Earth-size planets, although project managers hope to remedy the situation. The odds, astronomers said, are less than 50-50.'"

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76 comments

Futurama (4, Funny)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#43735323)

Obvious Futurama response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Isjgc0oX0s [youtube.com]

Re:Futurama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735455)

Another Slashtard who doesn't know science has to use worthless shitball comic book shit to try to look insightful. News at 11.
 
By the way... go fuck yourself.

Re:Futurama (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43735565)

I'm sorry, it's incredibly difficult to understand what you're saying when you have your head buried in your rectum.

Re:Futurama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736123)

I found it enlightening. I did not know science needs to use worthless shitball comic book shit to try to look insightful.

Re:Futurama (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43739241)

Another Slashtard

It's usual to put your sig at the end of your posts.

Jokes aside (1)

Michael Casavant (2876793) | about a year ago | (#43735341)

Sad news for such a promising mission.

Re:Jokes aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43741741)

Sad, yes, but not terrible. It will still be useful for astronomy, but if they can't unstick one of the two stuck wheels they just won't be able to use it to look for exoplanets.

50/50? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735343)

Surely the odds are astronomical?

Re:50/50? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43739245)

That's what they said about the chances of anything coming from Mars (or was that landing on Mars?). But still...

Poor guy (4, Funny)

pseudofrog (570061) | about a year ago | (#43735417)

That little probe has been put through a lot. I guess it would be okay to let it come home a little early. Maybe it can help prepare a party for its rover friends when they make it back! :)

Oblig XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736541)

That little probe has been put through a lot. I guess it would be okay to let it come home a little early. Maybe it can help prepare a party for its rover friends when they make it back! :)

http://xkcd.com/695/

so much for... (-1, Flamebait)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43735479)

...redundancy in aerospace.

It's not like anyone is physically hurt from such spacecraft failure, and space programs are great, but not at the expense of burying future generations in debt... Keynesian economics is a failed experiment; government spending is horribly out of control, and yet there are still deluded revisionists who claim that Roosevelt's New Deal brought the USA out of the Great Depression.

Re:so much for... (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year ago | (#43735571)

Maybe you missed the part where it mentioned the fact that they -had- redundancy, and that one had also failed?

Re:so much for... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735605)

Space shuttle had triplicate redundancy so things could still go on with two failures. Why did Kepler only have single redundancy?

Re:so much for... (2, Insightful)

haydensdaddy (1719524) | about a year ago | (#43735721)

The shuttle had humans on it... Kepler doesn't...

Re:so much for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736131)

Zoidberg: All six thousand hulls have been breached.
Fry: Oh, the fools! Why didn't they build it with six thousand and one hulls? When will they learn?

Re:so much for... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43738803)

one reaction wheel failed and they lost a primary mission objective... where's the redundancy in that?

so what if there were four wheels... if it only takes one to fail and kill the mission, then that one is a single point of failure and the other three aren't redundancies for that critical one.

Re:so much for... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43739279)

Kepler was launched with four reaction wheels, but one failed last year after showing signs of erratic friction. Three wheels are required to keep Kepler properly and precisely aimed, and now there are only two.

There you go.

Re:so much for... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43745279)

From the Slashdot summary:

One of the reaction wheels that maintains the craft's orientation — critical to long-exposure imaging — has failed.

Kepler was launched with four reaction wheels, but one failed last year after showing signs of erratic friction. Three wheels are required to keep Kepler properly and precisely aimed. Loss of the wheel has robbed it of the ability to detect Earth-size planets, although project managers hope to remedy the situation.

No mention of two anything.

Your quote is from the TFA (which I usually don't bother reading).

Still seems as though if they can lose two wheels out of four in a single mission, with three wheels required, any reliability engineer would tell you that the level of redundancy is insufficient.

Re:so much for... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43759481)

The mission was supposed to last until 2013 so the wheels lasted as long as they were supposed to. The problem is other components did not work as initially predicted so the mission did not produce as many results as they hoped to.

Re:so much for... (4, Interesting)

preaction (1526109) | about a year ago | (#43735577)

So we, as a species, should stop looking towards the stars and keep our noses to the ground and dig, dig until we build utopia on planet Earth? Somehow I do not think that is a long-term survival prospect for our species.

[insert link to graph showing NASA's budget as compared to DoD budget and other government agencies' budgets].

Re:so much for... (0)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43738787)

no, the United States as a nation (just as all other nations) should address its terrestrial problems before looking to extraterrestrial ones... if it can never address its terrestrial ones then it kinda doesn't give it much credibility in solving extraterrestrial ones.

Anyone who thinks the survival or our species really depends on NASA is even more deluded than the ignorant Keynesian economists.

The other problem with trying to look to the stars whilst problems on earth get worse is that the problems on earth can affect the stellar mission... and I suspect that's what may have happened in this case... trying to achieve difficult objectives on a relatively shoestring budget is always going to result in shortcuts being taken and quality processes being compromised.

When America can afford to look to the stars, they should. Until then, they are wasting their time (and precious taxpayer money).

Re:so much for... (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#43740079)

When America can afford to look to the stars, they should. Until then, they are wasting their time (and precious taxpayer money).

If that isn't the finest example of short-sighted thinking, I don't know what is. What you're suggesting is we wait until the last possible second to explore what might be out there just because NASA's budget represents a fraction of a percent of the overall national budget.

If you're that concerned about Federal spending, we can cut the military by 50%, stop all subsidies to business (sugar productoin, ethanol production, farm subsidies in general, scientific advances, production incentives, etc), not to mention all the entitlements people complain someone else is receiving but not the ones they're receiving.

If you want to go that way, I'll back you, but you can't then complain when things fall apart because the private sector has come to rely on government largess.

Re:so much for... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43745327)

If that isn't the finest example of short-sighted thinking, I don't know what is. What you're suggesting is we wait until the last possible second to explore what might be out there just because NASA's budget represents a fraction of a percent of the overall national budget.

Not really. I'm just highlighting that America's budget is so far down the toilet that fixing it should take priority over making it worse.

America should cut military spending... by 80%, and all subsidies should be stopped.

If the Slashdot article was about a defense issue, I would have raised the issue of defense spending. The story in this case was about space, so I highlighted how much of a waste of taxpayer money NASA is at the moment. If NASA was doing anything that benefited average Americans I would be all for it, but NASA is full of bureaucrats and academics peddling their own bandwagons.

By the way; I'm a Ron Paul supporter.

Re:so much for... (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#43751189)

But what if the extraterrestrial mission end up solving the terrestrial problems. Just look at Tang and all the other great inventions that came about from the space program. More seriously, if we started moving populations into space that would probably help things quite a bit. There is only so much economic growth you can have in a closed system. And if the economy is not growing it is considered to be failing.

Re:so much for... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43758577)

inventions that came out of the space race weren't due to the "space race"... they were because of huge R&D investments made by government during a cold war with Russia, and American taxpayers probably still haven't broken even from R&D investment in the mid 1900's.

The space race was merely a front for ridiculous unwarranted missile and spy satellite R&D.

if we started moving populations into space

The United States doesn't even have it's own regular access to Low Earth Orbit... humanity is decades away from making space stations beyond the size of supporting specialists.

The problem isn't that the economy isn't growing... growth cannot be sustained (on earth alone anyway) but the problem is that many Americans don't realize just how fucked the economy really is.

It's pretty hard to be upbeat when you can see a country collapsing through cracks between fake backgrounds propped up by a government out of control that show off how great things are meant to be. There's nothing to be optimistic about in America today. The best you can do is look after yourself and your family and forget your country, because your country doesn't give a fuck about you or your family.

Re:so much for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743571)

OMFG, I've seen it all now.

space programs are great, but not at the expense of burying future generations in debt

Do you ever read newspapers? Or do you get all your news from Limbaugh and FOX? The deficit is shrinking far faster than thought [reuters.com] . And the space program is one half of one percent of the budget. Eighteen billion compared to the 711 billion military budget, as big as the five next largest armies in the world combined. [wordpress.com]

Stupid brainwashed fool! There seems to be a lot like you here lately, where did the idiots all come from in the last few years? You, sir, are a fucking moron. What the hell is an antiscience, anti-nerd, ignorant refneck doing at slashdot? Go away and stop trolling us, idiot.

Re:so much for... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43745517)

You are an idiot if you really believe what you read by Reuters.

Even the CPI numbers are cooked. Maybe instead of reading Reuters (where do you think Fox gets its stories?) you should listen to Peter Schiff and Ron Paul, who have predicted recent events. A lot of people seem to think that Peter is wrong on the dollar collapse simply because he refuses to nail it down to a specific time, but it will happen soon enough. Keynesians are fools... always have been.

Keep chugging your mainstream media kool aid.

$17 trillion in debt - that means every American taxpayer is $150k in debt merely from government spending (not including their own debt), and that doesn't even include unfunded liabilities that aren't included in the national debt. Taxpayers are forking out $220 billion on interest alone, at a 0.25% interest rate... if that interest raises (due to Fed pressure to raise it if demand for bonds falls) Americans will be fucked. The Fed will print to oblivion and the world will stop trading in US dollars. If the US defaults on it's debt, it will lose all international credibility and the world will stop trading in US dollars.

The writing is on the wall. It's just unfortunate (for you) that you (like many others) seem to be unable to read.

Replacements (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735487)

Worry not! NASA's TESS and ESA's Gaia missions will be there to pick up the slack. Gaia launches this year and TESS in 2017.

Re:Replacements (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43735545)

There is also ESA's CHEOPS [esa.int] , a planet finder, also intended for launch in 2017.

Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735501)

We all knew when Spirit and Opportunity kept exceeding their mission lifetimes by different multiples, that some other poor mission would eventually get the karma burn.

Re:Karma (4, Informative)

wooferhound (546132) | about a year ago | (#43736321)

Reaction Wheels on spacecraft have always had problems and fail regularly. They are only on spaceships that are flying in space as they are used to orient the ship without using fuel. Rovers don't need them.

Re:Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739617)

Should have used magnetic bearings.

Re:Karma (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about a year ago | (#43740425)

They might be, but it wouldn't matter. The friction is probably due to ice forming on the reaction wheel or its axle. Ice will eventually clog up even a mag-lev system. Space is just a difficult place to keep mechanisms working.

Re:Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743207)

Yep, it is a common failure. HST has had this issue too. But operation of Kepler doesn't have to end just because a gyro failed. HST has operated with even fewer:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2005/aug/HQ_05242_hst_2_gyros.html

Re:Karma (1)

Restil (31903) | about a year ago | (#43737231)

To be fair, NASA already "burned" quite a bit of karma on previous Mars missions. It just seems like the last few have been exceptionally successful in comparison.

Primary mission already over (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43735519)

It's the extended mission (to 2016) that may be cut short. The primary mission is already over, in 2012.

They still have 2 reaction wheels, and also thrusters, and a fair amount of fuel. In the press release [nasa.gov] there was a discussion of options, which "are likely to include steps to attempt to recover wheel functionality and to investigate the utility of a hybrid mode, using both wheels and thrusters."

My guess is that, if they cannot recover pointed mode, they will put the spacecraft in a slow roll, which (if it is slow enough) would be good enough to detect hot Jupiters, but not Earth-like planets.

Re:Primary mission already over (5, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year ago | (#43735697)

'It's the extended mission (to 2016) that may be cut short. The primary mission is already over, in 2012' - this is true, and somewhat false.

One of the things that was discovered early on was that the sun was not a sun-like star.
It is unusually quiet - with little variation in brightness. Most of the population of stars observed by Kepler turn out to be lots noisier.
This unfortunately made the primary mission - which was to detect earth like planets in earth like orbits - not achievable in the original timescale.

With an extended mission, you can dig through more data, and get enough signal from multiple planet crossings to bring it up out of the noise, getting you back to where you would have been had the original mission assumptions been correct.
Unfortunately, the wheel failure seems to have constrained this.
At best the degraded pointing mode they may end up in will have much more noise in the signal, making it much less useful for many purposes.
(It will likely still be able to detect very large far out planets)

Another unfortunate fact is that the data from the cameras is very 'cooked' onboard - most of the data is thrown away automatically. This would make doing clever things to fix the problem in software on the returned data hard. How flexible the on-craft pipeline is is an interesting question.

Re:Primary mission already over (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736227)

Another unfortunate fact is that the data from the cameras is very 'cooked' onboard - most of the data is thrown away automatically. This would make doing clever things to fix the problem in software on the returned data hard. How flexible the on-craft pipeline is is an interesting question.

The data from the CCDs is not "cooked" very much at all. See http://arxiv.org/abs/1001.0258 There is no on-board pipeline. It's just that only 5% of the pixels are saved for downloading. With the spacecraft not at fine point this means the light from each star gets spread out to more pixles. This means more pixels per target star and therefore fewer targets.

Re:Primary mission already over (2)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year ago | (#43736593)

Be that as it may, the hardware was only designed to last till the expected mission end - which it did - so you can't really complain about it not lasting till 2016

Re:Repurpose? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43741049)

Is there some other way to use this instrument in it's hobbled state? Lunar mapping? Asteroid hunting? Etc...?? Would be nice to salvage the hardware, even if the primary mission is toasted.

Re:Primary mission already over (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736197)

They still have 2 reaction wheels, and also thrusters, and a fair amount of fuel.

In that case, "Warp Two, Mr. Sulu, ..... That-a-way."

Re:Primary mission already over (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43739285)

I say slam it into the atmosphere at the most fireball-inducing angle and give everyone a free show. If that doesn't get kids interested in space science, I don't know what will.

Re:Primary mission already over (1)

mrtommyb (1534795) | about a year ago | (#43740003)

Kepler has very likely found al the hot Jupiters in the field of view. Almost all hot Jupiters were found in the first few weeks of the mission. The mission may be able to continue to search for Jupiter-sized planets on Earth-like orbital periods. However, it's not clear whether this is either possible or worth the expense. The cost will be high given an entirely new mode of operations will need to be designed in a relatively short space of time.

Too little redundancy... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43735533)

I would have thought that adding a few extra comparatively simple mechanical components, commonly understood to be error-prone (remember Voyager 2...) into a billion dollar mission would be a no-brainer.

It has plenty (4, Informative)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#43735717)

They added an extra wheel and whatnot to let it make it's mission, which officially ended in 2012. It is already in extended time and all data we get from it now is essentially a bonus.

"Malfunction" my ass! (1)

StefanJ (88986) | about a year ago | (#43735619)

The reptoids will stop at nothing to prevent humans from finding their homeworld!

But seriously, bummer. Many years ago (1997!) I went to a NASA Ames / Moffet Field open house. Various working groups had set up displays showing the mission concepts they were working on. One of these was Kepler.

I heard differently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735873)

they were keeping their budget on MtGox...

reaction Wheels strike again (1)

ThePeices (635180) | about a year ago | (#43735939)

Is it me, or do reaction wheels seem to be the most failure prone part of space telescopes?

Re:reaction Wheels strike again (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736567)

It's one of the only moving parts.

It also has something to do with the fact that something with (relatively) little mass has to spin at a bonkers rate to generate the reaction force required.

Re:reaction Wheels strike again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739277)

Not to mention the fact that it does so subject to environment conditions that are inexistent on earth, and therefore they're essentially running lubricants nearly-blind. We have a few billion hours experience with this crap from 0.5 to 20atm, but 0-0.5 in a vacuum, not so much.

Remember Hubble? (1)

HairyNevus (992803) | about a year ago | (#43736291)

Something tells me if they want to, they can fix it. Eventually.

Re:Remember Hubble? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#43736467)

Well, considering that Hubble is in Earth orbit and Kepler is not, that would be pretty difficult.

Re:Remember Hubble? (2)

HairyNevus (992803) | about a year ago | (#43736473)

...Oh ye of little faith

Re:Remember Hubble? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43736843)

kepler is in an earth trailing orbit, 6 million miles away, we can get to it

Re:Remember Hubble? (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#43737443)

Using what? We have no manned space vehicles. Russia and China certainly have no vehicles designed for such a journey. And at 6 millions miles, that's 25 times the distance between earth and the moon. But I think that 6 million is wrong, I've seen other sources quoting it at 40 million. We could *manufacture* a ship to get there....but that would take some time...and be kind of pointless since the telescope could simply be replaced for a fraction of the cost.

Re:Remember Hubble? (1)

stevencbrown (238995) | about a year ago | (#43741803)

easy. if it's in earth trailing orbit, just launch something out of earth orbit, and the stop it. Kepler will eventually come along, and whatever we've sent up came just fix it. Shouldn't put us off just because it'll be going at 107,200 km/h...

Aliens! (1)

wheelbarrio (1784594) | about a year ago | (#43736745)

Obviously the Galactic Ghoul [wikipedia.org] operating on an interstellar scale. I'd be taking a good hard look at the systems next up on Kepler's observing schedule...

Have you tried rebooting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737315)

It's not exactly comforting to know that their technical support steps involve, "Have you tried turning it off and on?"

Universal troubleshooting methodology (1)

lcllam (714572) | about a year ago | (#43737337)

Did you try switching it off, then switching it back on?

Re:Universal troubleshooting methodology (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43739293)

I don't expect anyone to read TFAs, but you could at least read TFS ;)

They shut the spacecraft down for a couple of weeks to give it a rest, in the hopes that the wheel’s lubricant would spread out and solve the problem. But when they turned it back on, the friction was still there.

Obvious Solution (1)

Koutarou (38114) | about a year ago | (#43737701)

Just send the space shuttle up to fix it.

Oh wait...

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | about a year ago | (#43739645)

The shuttle was nowhere near capable of flying to Kepler. It's at 40 million miles, while the space shuttle could only fly up a couple hundred miles. Besides, considering the cost of the mission, it would not warrant a complicated repair mission. For that money you could probably send up 10 new telescopes.

Re:Obvious Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739935)

For that money you could probably send up 10 new telescopes.

well lets do that then.

Re:Obvious Solution (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | about a year ago | (#43748475)

If I remember right, there already is a successor in the pipeline. Anyway, I would be surprised that the end of Kepler would be the end of the exoplanet revolution. It's a very hot field in astronomy. There's a scientific gold vein out there, people will keep digging. Kepler is a significant milestone, and one of my favorite missions, but not a unique instrument. It's the beginning, not the end.

Well we fixed Hubble (1)

lkernan (561783) | about a year ago | (#43737713)

If only we had a vehicle we could send up with some astronauts to fix it. Couldn't be any harder than fixing Hubble could it? Oh, right.....

What is it with momentum wheels, anyway? (2)

ridgecritter (934252) | about a year ago | (#43738195)

These seem to be a relatively common source of woe for spacecraft that use them. I understand it's moving parts and all that, but surely in 0-G there can't be *that* much wear on bearings. Anyway, there seems to be plenty of work on magnetic bearings for momentum wheels, which would eliminate mechanical wear. Or is it not the bearings that fail? Can any /. readers shed some light on why these things seem to pack it in so frequently?

Re:What is it with momentum wheels, anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43740103)

[quote]surely in 0-G there can't be *that* much wear on bearings.[/quote]
Not when they're inactive, but every time they're actuated, the rotational inertia of the whole spacecraft is applied to those bearings.
They also undergo >200 C of thermal cycling, they're in hard vacuum (which is absolute hell on lubricants) and the power that can be spared to keep them spun up is on the order of "a few hamsters in a wheel".
Even so, they are (on average) extremely reliable pieces of machinery. Kepler, though, relies on obscenely tight pointing tolerances over very long periods, and even a little bit of friction is enough to reduce its pointing accuracy enough to compromise the quality of the data.

Re:What is it with momentum wheels, anyway? (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | about a year ago | (#43748575)

Thanks, your comment is interesting. True, the spacecraft rotational inertia is put on the momentum wheel bearings when they're used to reorient the spacecraft. The force exerted on the bearings should be proportional to the slew rate - faster slew, more force. You'd think a mission like Kepler would have mainly very small slew rates (high pointing accuracy = low angular excursion rates). Vacuum effects on lubricants, for sure. Does anybody use magnetic bearings on spacecraft momentum wheels? Particularly for high pointing accuracies on celestial 'fixed' targets that don't need high slew rates, these would seem to be the ticket. No wear because no physical contact.

Re:What is it with momentum wheels, anyway? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43740299)

You'd also think they's have these attached to the spafe station for many years, so they could study wear and tear on it.

Re:What is it with momentum wheels, anyway? (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about a year ago | (#43740479)

The problem might not be wear and tear, it might be ice forming somewhere in the wheel system. Normal ice can be evaporated away by heating up the instrument, but when I say 'ice', I mean deposits of some material -- vaporized rubber, outgassing paint, or even neutron spalling. All of those could add friction to the system, can't be easily removed, and may have nothing to do with the bearings.

Re:What is it with momentum wheels, anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743595)

The summary says it is a lub problem, so I guess could be chemical, or worn seals, or maybe thermal variations ?
4 years is not bad for running without an oil change, and it is past it's nominal Mission Life.

Donate it to Amateur Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738975)

I'm sure there's lots we can do with it, even it can't perform either of it's primary roles anymore.

TODO list (3, Insightful)

Mr2cents (323101) | about a year ago | (#43739569)

- Make better reaction wheels
- Make better valves

Those two things always come back when missions end, or when a rocket launch has to be delayed.

Demonstrates the need for a space tug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43741641)

We need to seriously reconsider how sapce assets are deployed, serviced, and supplied. Launching a satellite and then relying on onboard reliability, supplies, and redundancy may have been a valid strategy in the 20th century however, considering the assets we now have deployed, it is obsolete. The obvious downside of the onboard strategy is that one single component failure of a critical system can result in the failure of the bird. And considering that one of the largest cost of a satellite is the launch and insurance for the launch throwing away a satellite because of one failure is very wasteful. What is needed is a new strategy where satellites can receive service including consumables, new components, and rebuilt systems. We have the ISS up there so have a location to start with. What we need is two things, standards for capture and hardware. All satellites need to have a common adapter ring to fulfill the need to capture the bird in orbit. The second component is a space tug that can then capture a bird and bring it down to the ISS. I understand that the ISS would have to have some type of service module added to it for fuel and probably some type of space dock. Considering the amount of space hardware in orbit that can be reused if it simply had fuel or a component be replaced this type of system would surely pay for itself.

Less than 50-50? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43750435)

So if the odds of remedying the situation is less than 50-50 what exactly is it; 42-42, 37-37, 24-24?

- Peder

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