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Astronauts, Robots to Save Hubble

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the tag-team dept.

Space 213

BungoMan85 writes "Astronauts who serviced the Hubble Space Telescope, among others, feel that NASA's administrator Sean O'Keefe shouldn't be too quick to abandon the now 14 year old space telescope because of safety concerns arising from the Columbia disaster." And an anonymous reader writes "At the insistance of congress, NASA is looking for a way to save the Hubble. "It's the most unpopular decision I could have made," Sean O'Keefe said of his decision to cancel the shuttle mission planned to fix Hubble. He has authorized his engineers to pursue the possiblity of a robotic rescue mission. This could be a great opportunity for private industry contractors."

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Interesting (-1, Offtopic)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619251)

Spend minimal costs, but we need to move on to bigger and better technologies. We are definitely capable of a better telescope, and we should concentrate on getting a new one out there.

Who's the hottest editor?

Cum Taco [calcgames.org]
Michael [calcgames.org]
Timothy [calcgames.org]
CowboyNeal [calcgames.org]
Other [calcgames.org]

Re:Interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619326)

Re:Coffee and music -- Why? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619252)

Let's say you're sitting at a Starbucks, drinking some coffee. You hear a song over the speakers you happen to like. All you have to do is call out: "Could I get this on a CD, please?" They burn you the CD. On your way out (or right then) you pick it up... It works perfectly together...

LOTR: Riverdance (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619253)

After all, Legolas's antics were not far off....

AMERICANS! Get your act together! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619254)

The article states that the Australian authorities are unable to charge him, indicating that he has done nothing illegal in his country of residence and the country where the act was carried out (Australian server,.au domain). Many Americans have "broken Norwegian law", by allowing Norwegians to download hardcore porn from American servers. Should they all be extradited? Your country and laws are not above anybody elses. The fact that some of you clearly think so sickens and frightens me. If we are to go by the logic put forth by some of you, we should all be extradited to China (if not North Korea)... Sure you want that?

Hmmmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619255)

I was going to send the webmaster an email saying that the hotmail/msn services were down, but I couldn't get into my hotmail to send it. What do people do in these kinds of situations?

Re:Ruined. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619256)

I once read an interview with comic book author Alan Moore in which the interviewer asked him how he felt about his comics being "ruined" by dismal, piece-of-crap movie adaptations (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the like).

He responded. "Ruined my books? No, they're fine, they're right over there on the shelf."

I feel the same way about this. Certainly it has every chance of being a dismal, laughable production, but the original source material has survived worse lambasting already at the hands of the Harvard Lampoon and a thousand poor imitators writing ten-book doorstop epics in homage to Tolkien. The original LOTR material is going to be just fine.

'best database around for the price'? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619257)

Really?

Is it the best database for a linux or unix shop?
Is it the best database for large reporting or search applications?
Is it the best database for projects or companies with a small budget?

Ah, the answer to all of the above is 'no':
- zero portability
- parallelism and partitioning is primitive
- licensing costs for a 4-way server can easily hit $100k, and in many configurations are more expensive than other top commercial products (db2 for example).

When it comes to prototyping, sql server is at the top of my list. However, when it comes to delivering powerful capabilities, automating operations, and scripting changes - then it's at the bottom of my list.

But I will agree with you on the.net stuff - integrating that into the database is a bad idea.

wide astronauts LOLOLFUNNY!!!1!!lmaorotfl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619258)

WIDE! Like Taco's cheeks

Hello, I'm WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE!
Yes, I'm WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE!
Very very WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE! So wonderfully, so fantabulously WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW WIDE!


Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.Your commeYour comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.nt has too few characters per line (currently 33.9).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 33.9).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 33.9).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too fewYour comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted. characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your commeYour comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.nt has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.3).

Xzzy

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Re:working link

Re:working link (Score:1)
by Mark J Tilford (186) on 09:46 PM March 19th, 2004 (#8617899)

slashdot puts in occasional spaces to prevent people from adding overwide lines to pages.

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That's okay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619259)

Because SQL Server 2000 is pretty much the best database around for the price.

Who needs all that integrated.NET stuff anyway?

Re:You're dealing with the problem too high up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619260)

If you can set up a distributed system at a reasonable cost where any program can continue to run without carying about an underlying failure, you would be richer than Bill Gates.

Resources DO become unavailable in most systems. It simply doesn't pay to ensure everything is duplicated, and set up infrastructures that makes it transparent to the end user - there are almost always cheaper ways of meeting your business goals by looking at what level of fault tolerance you actually need.

For most people hours, sometimes even days, of outages can be tolerable for many of their systems, and minutes mostly not noticeable if the tools can handle it. The cost difference in providing a system where unavailabilities are treated as a normal, acceptable condition within some parameters, and one where failures are made transparent to the user can be astronomical.

To this date, I have NEVER seen a computer system that would come close to the transparency you are suggesting, simply beause for most "normal" uses it doesn't make economic sense.

I for one like Asian pussy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619261)

Does anyone else?

It's Good That It's So Good At Filtering Spam.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619263)

Now if they could only make it usable. After reading the last Slashdot article about it I decided to try and move my Amavis/ClamAV/SpamAssassin/Postfix/Courier-IMAP setup to use DSPAM. Good Lord what a configuration nightmare. I couldn't find a decent HOW-TO and no real working example configurations in order to test it out. Sure the README "has all the information I'll ever need" but some of the stuff that it talks about I don't understand and I don't have the patience to configure it through trial and error.

Developing good software is one thing. But it's a lot nicer when good software is actually usable. I'll be sticking with SpamAssassin until they can dumb it down a little.

Prior art (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619264)

Perhaps the bendy straw people should sue.

Wow... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619268)

I'm feeling like I could be the 6 trillion dollar man any year now... between this, powered exoskeletal legs [slashdot.org] , I'll be a super sapper in no time. I wonder how much of this my beloved US Army has actually looked into.

Windows needs 'distributions'! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619269)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Microsoft should not be allowed to sell Windows with any additional apps whatsoever.

With GNAA/Linux you have different distributions, why can't Windows work on the same principle?

You don't get Mandrake saying "Oh, we're not going to put into our distro, why should we put other people's apps in our distro's?"

The whole point of distributions is that you get loads of apps from loads of developers, and you get to select exactly what you want from the best available apps.

Having Windows distributions is the only way I see of overcoming Microsoft's anti-competitive monopoly.

Re:Use in sports? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619271)

Ummm how about we use this to monitor all the athleets to see if any are using "performance enhancing drugs". it's a monitoring not enhancing thing

Screw it (3, Interesting)

mphase (644838) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619272)

I'm sure they could find a couple dudes who would be willing to take the risk, they should just suck it up and go.

Re:Screw it (4, Funny)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619292)

Are Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck doing anything important right now?

Re:Screw it (3, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619368)

When was the last time either Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck did anything important?

Re:Screw it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619378)

Or have they ever, or will they?
Do actors do anything important?

Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619302)

Remember, if we go, then it sucks a bunch of money out of the space budget that could go to--maybe--a new better space telescope.

ok... you twisted my arm (0)

ocularDeathRay (760450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619334)

I'll go.
I even promise to walk around all stiff legged like a robot.

I only ask that you pay me whatever you were going to spend on that robot... or twice as much to my family if I die on the mission. (they need some incentive to bring me back I think).

Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubble? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619273)

I know the Hubble telescope has done some great science, but shouldn't we just let it go so we have more money to put up the next generation telescope?

Or is this really about hating Bush's attempt to bring a man to Mars, and undermining it anyway possible just because he's Bush? I can't see why people are suddenly spendthrift when a Republican president wants to do something, but we can spend billions on welfare and hike taxes up to strangulating levels without anyone complaining under a Democrat.

Because Republicans create huge deficits???? (-1, Insightful)

modder (722270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619386)

Maybe? I dunno...

Just a guess.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (5, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619390)

According to current plans, there will be several years between the Hubble being decommissioned and a new space telescope taking its place, and that's assuming everything goes according to Bush's plan. There's no alternate instrument that can do what the Hubble does during that time, so a large subsection of astronomy as a whole would be crippled.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619398)

But wouldn't an expensive manned repair mission set the new telescope back further?

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (5, Insightful)

Buran (150348) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619420)

And then there's the fact that it's just insane to throw away something that is doing a fantastic job and can continue to do so if a small investment is made to keep it running. It's like throwing away an old Civic just because you might buy a BMW -- no reason you can't keep both cars in your garage, and there are just some things that a Civic makes sense for. Plus, with two cars you have more resources available.

And, the additional Hubble instruments have already been built and are just waiting to be launched!

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (5, Informative)

Mr_Huber (160160) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619498)

Also, the Hubble's replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope [nasa.gov] isn't quite a replacement for Hubble. It won't be launched until 2012, does not see in quite the same region of the spectrum and will be sitting at L2, well out of the range for servicing.

One of the things that has made the Hubble truely unique is the ability to be serviced. Each service mission has improved the telescope's capabilities tremendously. The Webb, for all its grandure, once it is up, it is up. No serviceing mission to bolt on a new camera, no trips to fix the optics. What we get day 1 is what we get day 100 and day 1000.

In the meantime, we will have at least six years without an optical range space telescope. That's six years of supernovae, six years of gamma ray bursts, six years of star formation, six years of light echos and six years of deep field astronomy that simply WILL NOT HAPPEN.

This is rediculous. Fix the damned telescope.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (5, Informative)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619452)

I know the Hubble telescope has done some great science, but shouldn't we just let it go so we have more money to put up the next generation telescope?

No, we should not just let it go, especially not when we've already spent $200 million on the instruments that are supposed to be installed in the next mission. HST is quite possibly the greatest scientific instrument anyone's ever built. You don't just throw it away unless you really have to.

Or is this really about hating Bush's attempt to bring a man to Mars, and undermining it anyway possible just because he's Bush?

Look, no one believes that Bush is serious about a manned mission to Mars, least of all the man himself. His proposed reshuffling of the NASA budget to pay for it is sub-laughable.

I can't see why people are suddenly spendthrift when a Republican president wants to do something, but we can spend billions on welfare and hike taxes up to strangulating levels without anyone complaining under a Democrat.

Please, get serious. What are these "strangulating" tax levels you are talking about, and under whose administration did they occur? If you look at this page [taxpolicycenter.org] , you'll see that tax rates have not appreciably changed since 1980. In fact, that same chart will show you that most people's taxes were actually lower in 2000, when the Man You Love To Hate left office, compared to 1992, when he took office.

Maybe people seem spendthrift because the Bush administration is mangling our budget with explosive spending programs coupled with irresponsible tax breaks for the rich. This results in (suprise, suprise) huge deficits which our children's children will be paying for. This isn't "just party politics"; fiscal conservatives are crying foul about Bush Economics as well.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (4, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619503)

I don't want to sound rude, but why must we take this to politics... this is a civilian space agency, and we should treat it as such (and not some government pet project as most administrations have used it: Kennedy for the space race, Bush for gaining a stab of popularity and spicing up discussions everywhere).

Politics aside, we've made an investment. 15 years of a working Hubble telescope. That time runs out next year and we're still a solid 6 years behind on a solid replacement (which, is still questionable, since everything I read tells me it is planned to be like the Spitzer telescope and take pictures in Infrared). We also made the investment on 200 Million USD on upgrades to Hubble. 200 Million dollars is a lot of money to put towards something that can probably never be used with any other piece of equipment except Hubble, and not put it to use.

And I don't buy this Bullshit O'Queef is selling us about the worries of the shuttles. They're operable as is already, and what happened on Columbia was a freak accident that nobody thought to try to explain until it was too late. Maybe the money that could be going to building these "robots" could instead be used to build a wing crawler, to crawl out and service the underbelly of the Shuttle in case of such a disaster.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (-1, Redundant)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619561)

Because it's taxpayer money that pays for it, and it's politics that controls that money.

That's why it's political.

I agree with you in that the service mission is paid for. Yes, it is. The hardware is there, the training has been done....but it's being cancelled for political reasons.

Come on, man, that's what is pissing a lot of people off. This has been on slashdot before, even. Did you not read the comments?

Just don't give the initiative to NASA to build shuttle repair vehicles. *shudder* please.

At least Goldin supported some decent ideas. O'Keefe is nothing more than another ignorant Bush admin schill.

Oh fuck, what's the point. ciroknight, at least direct it at those who deserve it....

SB
Mad does not even begin to describe my feelings right now.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (1)

mbrother (739193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619529)

Oh, I didn't realize that the money saved on the servicing mission would go into another space telescope. Oh, that's because it won't. There is already a Next Generation Space Telescope, and it is already funded. The servicing mission money will just go toward the deficit, a tiny drop in the giant bucket, and the billions of dollars invested in Hubble will not produce any more science or pretty pictures or good will of any sort. There are some valid reasons to question the servicing mission, but money is not one of them (and O'Keefe has not claimed money to be the issue either). I'm not wild about Bush, but I'd love to see people land on Mars -- the money spent servicing Hubble has zero bearing on that issue.

Re:Why is everyone suddenly so eager to save Hubbl (5, Insightful)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619545)

I'll tell you why everyone's so Hubble-happy: NASA pulled a little reverse psychology on us and it worked.

As time passes, especially after a SNAFU [space.com] or a poorly executed Let's Go To Mars! speech, the public's perceived value of NASA falls. Everyone's talkin' trash, saying "Why do we need to spend billions to develop a pen that can write upside down when people are starving?" and the like.

However, if the government, unprovoked, says "Hey everybody, we're going to disintigrate the Hubble and how do you like that" then the people apparently have the opposite reaction. Most people do not know anything about the Hubble other than it's a Good Thing. What a shame it would be to destroy it! So, by announcing plans to toss the Hubble in the garbage, NASA effectively primed the public to be willing to spend more dollars on space-related stuff.

This isn't news. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619274)

We already read the same exact thing, but in different words and headline over a week ago. This new article brings nothing new to the table except for a slightly misleading headline.

The's forum.**

** - Not that a 15 year old is less intelligent than anyone else, just young people tend to not have their heads glued on straight when it comes to business and law. Wisdom takes time to build.

Re:Pack the bags! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619275)

Forget mapping it, actually play in it! That complex is just screaming out to be used as a paintball/laser tag arena. Imagine the orange warning lights spinning around and a computerised female voice 'Thirty seconds till missile launch' over the sound system.

Hell, with the strength of the pound against the dollar even I might buy it! $3,950,000 that's like, what, 2 grand of my money? (just getting one back for the Canadians)

IP laws in the internet age (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619276)

It has become clear to me that we probably need new IP laws for an age where copying is so easy. The current set were drafted when widespread copying was difficult, and accepted that certain infringements would happen. We can now copy so much so easily, and prevent copying so easily, that I think we should look again at the law, and see whether some small rights should accrue to the user. What's your view on this?

Amen! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619279)

I agree! It used to be that the average mom & pop or even home enthusiast could purchase the "decoding" machines or the books that translated the engine light codes. Those days ended around 1992, I believe. As a car enthusiast and do-it-yourselfer, it's irritating as hell to have to pay an exorbitant fee to some dealer just to tell me what the computer THINKS is wrong with my car. 9 times out of 10, it's just some sensor somewhere that is malfunctioning and needs replacing. Usually, if the sensor weren't there, the car would run fine, too. I'll take my good-old v8 any day over cars with 50 million sensors that go bad.

woo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619281)


Congress to Automakers: "G1bb0rz u5 j00r l337 c0d3x0r5555!"

Re:What about linux distributions?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619285)

Many distributions ship with software such as XMMS, mplayer and the gimp. Should Mandrake, SuSE, Debian and the like be fined for carrying this software?

First: no one of those distributions has a de facto monopoly in the OS market and it's trying to abuse that position to get the monopoly in other markets, such as the media players one.

Second: on the average GNAA/Linux distro, you have twenty different text editors, a dozen media players, and another dozen graphic manipulation programs.

So, your is, indeed, a non sequitur.

Re:Worst idea since spell checkers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619286)

just need to learn to spell and to ytype accuratly. -- QED - Quite Easily Done

<Teal'c> Indeed </Teal'c>

Re:The Internet is Real (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619289)

This person has not set foot in the US.

Are you saying that if I sit off-shore and beam "illega"l materials over US airwaves, that I should be arrested and tried, even though I'm not a US citizen and I was in international waters when I did the braodcasting?

Funny, 'cause the US does that all the time... we put ships and aircraft near "evil" countries and beam in locally illegal content in an attempt to incite the population to rebel.

Re:iTunes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619293)

You can just burn your iTunes purchases to DVD or CD from the iTunes GUI. Check their website for instructions, if you need 'em. I keep my iTunes library separate from my general media, since I don't want copy protected AAC files getting mixed in with my other crap.

I can tell a difference in 192k and 128k. Can't tell anything between 192k and 320k unless there's a lot of ambient sounds, trumpets and other instruments in the mid to high end being played at once. Mind you, in a silent room I hear a lot of high pitched distortion because I played the guitar too loud when I was a kid.

One of the first cases (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619296)

One of the first cases of this was when Tom's Hardware (then only a startup site) reviewed a Riva TNT and said it was twice as fast as 3DFX voodoo (obviously untrue, but it's unknown if Nvidia paid him anything to say this). Eventually 3DFX picked up on this and demanded that Tom changes it, which he did.

But the damage was already done.

I would have to agree... (1, Insightful)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619297)

with the above post. 14 years is an eternity in the world of technology. For (probably) 3 times the cost of the repair mission, a telescope of (probably) 100 times the quality of hubble could be deployed. I can see why hubble has sentimental value, but really, it's time to move on.

Re:I would have to agree... (4, Informative)

dmadole (528015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619328)

Read the article. The cancelled mission was not just to service the telescope in terms of maintenance, it was also to install new instruments worth $167 million as an upgrade.

If they can upgrade what's already there to new technology, why launch a new one? I'm sure the idea of replacing it completely has been considered and the costs weighed.

Re:I would have to agree... (3, Funny)

ctxspy (94924) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619340)

No no.. You're completely wrong -- The two previous posters are clearly more 'in the know' than the people who actually deal with this stuff for a living.

Re:I would have to agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619369)

And how would a manned upgrade mission be more cost effective than carefully building a brand new telescope on the ground and launching it in an unmanned rocket?

Re:I would have to agree... (2, Interesting)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619349)

It would be nice though to put Hubble into a maintainable orbit, maybe even rent it/sell it to a company who wants to take pictures of the heavens and sell them. Even with it being aging technology, I don't believe it should just be discarded like the other aging satelites.. it is a testimate to human ingeniuity that it lasted this long and I believe it should be preserved.

Maybe if we can't put it in a sustainable orbit (for repairs and such) why not bring it back to earth? AFAIK this has never been done and would be a huge test of the space agency... but once it was back on earth, not only could it be in a museum for all to see, we could also test all the different pieces of equipment on it for radiation exposure levels, and see just how well it held up to micrometorites and the like. There's a wealth of knowledge hubble still holds, discarding it now is a complete waste.

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619365)

I wasn't implying that we *junk* hubble, I think you have some great ideas, hopefully NASA will do something similar eventually. I just think that we would be better served than repairing a clearly obselete peice of equipment.

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ffsnjb (238634) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619495)

HST is not obsolete until there is a replacement working, right now there is not.

Re:I would have to agree... (4, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619517)

And even so, I don't believe Hubble should be obsolete then. It's still the 14 years tested platform for taking pictures; it can serve as a benchmark for new telescopes, and a fallback in case new telescopes aren't working the way they are planned.

Just because something is old, in no way makes it obsolete.. We still use virtually the same aircraft since the 1980's, the Boeing 737 and 747 have been obsoleted many times over by the 777 and other new aircraft, but the 737's and 747's are still in constant usage. Why? Expense and Risk Management. It's simply cheaper to use and maintain a working platform, than to build a new one and have it fail in some catastrophic way nobody could have planned for.

When Hubble was first launched, the disaster struck and it couldn't take pictures correctly, it taught us how to repair it, and since then, maintainance has been a breeze. Something tells me new telescopes will be prone to lots of problems like this, especially with the new ideas of building cheap and launching cheap that NASA's subscribed to.

Re:I would have to agree... (2, Insightful)

mbrother (739193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619508)

And what, exactly, is obsolete about Hubble? Seriously, tell me. Sure, the computers are slow, but they do the job fine. The gyroscopes could last longer. But those are functionalities that don't affect the bottom line if they do their job. The instruments could be updated, the very key thing, AND THAT IS WHAT THE SERVICING MISSION WILL DO. Hubble is still producing great science still today that no other facility can touch. When we've already spent a few billion on the thing, a few hundred million is CHEAP in relative terms to get a few more years of service out of it.

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619560)

Ok, clearly you are more authoratitive on the subject than I. Sorry. ErichTheWebGuy is wrong and will now STFU.

Re:I would have to agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619474)

IIRC the original plan was to bring Hubble back down in a shuttle and put it in the Smithsonian, but like pretty much everything shuttle-related, that's been cancelled for now.

Personally, as long as it still works (however long that is... it's quickly running out of working gyros...), I say leave it up there. Even with all the new ground-based telescopes around the world, there's still a waiting list a mile long to use Hubble. Hell, I bet if we even had ten Hubbles in orbit, they'd still all be in use 24/7 for years to come. Better to leave it up there, at least until there's a REAL replacement in orbit (not that stupid non-upgradable piece of junk they're planning).

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619400)

Computer technology, 14 years is a long time.

Any other kind of technology, it's not a long time at all.

You, my friend, need some historical perspective.

Re:I would have to agree... (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619411)

For (probably) 3 times the cost of the repair mission, a telescope of (probably) 100 times the quality of hubble could be deployed.

Do you have *any* basis for a claim like this, other than "your gut feeling"?

14 years is a long time, around 10 iterations of the "performance doubling every 12-18 months" if you're talking about computer technology. But optical technology has been stable for quite some time. Or, do also claim to have binoculars 512x-1024x better than your dad's?

Remember, Hubble is not a computer - it's a telescope. And, since image processing is done on the ground, advances in computer technology are likely largely irrelevant to the Hubble.

Re:I would have to agree... (2, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619450)

Only thing I can think that might be different between the time when Hubble was launched and now is the technology used in the collection of the image itself. We can make much more sensitive CCD's (or CMOS's, which NASA would probably prefer...) for cheaper now, allowing for a much higher resolution picture to be taken.. BUT: since we're already building another telescope, there's no reason at all to throw money at upgrading this piece of hardware, since it would undoubtedly require quite invasive work.

Sure, we have much better technology now to make a lighter, cheaper telescope with a much better eyesight, but nothing can escape the allure of those awesome pictures Hubble has returned to us. Since Webb is looking to be more like an infrared telescope, Hubble's the only imaging device we will have to take pictures like these..

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619470)

Do you have *any* basis for a claim like this, other than "your gut feeling"?

Yes. OK, granted the "100 times" thing is a bit speculative, but look at the Spitzer telescope. While the images might not be as visually appealing as those hubble has gotten, it has been the concensus (from what I have read) that it is a superior telescope form a scientific viewpoint.

USA Today has a recent story [usatoday.com]

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619479)

But it's an Infrared telescope. Hubble is Visible light. It's comparing apples to oranges really...

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619496)

That's why I said the Spitzer telescope's images weren't as visually appealing, but more valuable form a scientific viewpoint.

I also posted earlier in the thread that I am not saying hubble should be scrapped, but that we should concentrate efforts to learning about our universe, not taking pretty digital pictures -- which BTW I love. One of hubble's images is my desktop background as I write this, and has been for weeks, so it is with a certain sense of irony that I write this.

Re:I would have to agree... (2, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619505)

The distinction btw. visible light and infrared probably shouldn't make a difference in the visible appeal. Most of the pictures you see of extraterrestral objects have had their color manipulated, and many are completely false color. In fact, ALL of the pictures you see from Spitzer would be false color, unless you can happen to see infrared light.

Re:I would have to agree... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619552)

we should concentrate efforts to learning about our universe
So exactly why should we spend the extra money building a new telescope when simply upgrading the current one as planned will do the exact same thing, only 6+ years earlier (hey! six more years of learning about our universe!) and a lot cheaper?

Telescopes are not computers... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619422)

Along with the repair mission, I believe they were going to upgrade the existing sensors onboard Hubble, which themselves have been upgraded at least a two or three times over the last 14 years, and are really the only part of Hubble that will become obsolete any time soon. The only major changes in telescope technology in the last few decades has been stuff to counteract the effects of looking through miles of atmosphere, which obviously Hubble doesn't have to worry about.

As far as capabilities are concerned, building a whole new telescope wouldn't be substantially different than just upgrading the existing one. Well, except for the slight cost of designing, building, and launching a new telescope. And doing it again in five or ten years sensor technology has advanced some more.

Another reason to keep Hubble around: in five years when there's better cameras and sensors, we can just send up a shuttle to upgrade Hubble. Can't do that with Hubble's proposed "replacement" (I forget the name...), what with it being way out at L2 and all. No way to repair a warped mirror either, so if that happens again we're stuck.

Re:I would have to agree... (2, Informative)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619473)

It's also worth noting that the costs to build upgrades to Hubble have already been incurred, since the development of more Hubble telescope additions has already completed (176 million USD worth). It'd be worth it just to put these new additions to the telescope into use, and upgrade it's batteries and gyros so that the instruments are given a real chance at life.

The James Webb cosmic observatory isn't ready yet (Hubble's successor), and won't be until 2011, whereas Hubble was due for retirement in 2005. That's an automatic 6 year wait, which is absolutely devastating to our scientists. On top of that, what happens if the rocket smokes on the pad and the James Webb observatory is no more? Another 6 year wait? These are things we need to think about before deciding Hubble's fate, which, IMO was never given a thought outside of the costs of getting three men up there to service the thing.

Re:I would have to agree... (5, Interesting)

mbrother (739193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619486)

Yeah, well don't post an ignorant opinion if you don't know what you're talking about. Insightful not! Other posters have pointed out that the servicing mission is to install more modern technology on the telescope -- EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT! And for image quality (spatial resolution, which is what Hubble does best) 100 times that of Hubble, you'd need a 250 meter telescope in space, which we probably can't do this CENTURY unless we spent the entire GDP. We have a better telescope planned right now (the James Webb Telescope budgeted at yes, about 3 times the repair mission cost), for probably 2012, which is better, but not 100 times better, and won't work in the ultraviolet AT ALL. I'm an astronomer who uses Hubble, and I bust my ass working on proposals to use the thing because I have science to do that I can only do with Hubble, not for sentimental reasons. With new instruments, there is more unique science to come that can be done no other way. Sorry for YELLING, ErichTheWebGuy, but I've had a few glasses of wine and my tolerance for ignorant spouting off tonight isn't too high. There are pros and cons to the Hubble servicing issue, you sound like an idiot telling astronomers like me that the telescope is obsolete.

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619539)

Whoa! Sorry for offending you, that *so* was not my intention. I was only presenting my uninformed opinion. I am not an astronomer, and was only stating my opinion based upon the information I had available to me. It is still my opinion that new technology might better verve us.

However, I can now see the error in my logic as I did not fully comprehend the scope of the impending upgrade, but I still think that a robotic upgrade is not the best way to go, based on what I have read about past robotic maintenance missions.

So please accept my sincere apology for having offended you, or anyone else.

Re:I would have to agree... (1)

mbrother (739193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619558)

Hey thanks for the positive reply -- I was probably overly aggresive in mine. Like I said, a couple of glasses of wine...All in all, I'd prefer to educate people than piss them off!

Re:I would have to agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619521)

What on earth is this RFC 2550? This is hilarious.

Re:Been tried (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619299)

RTFA. You're lightyears away from what it's about.

Re:Back to grade school for retraining... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619300)

Correction - Neptune was farther from Pluto from January 21, 1979 to Feb. 11, 1999 [nasa.gov] but at this time Pluto is farther from the sun than Neptune.

Of course, there's debate as to whether Pluto-Charon is a planet with a moon, or a double planet...

- Thomas;

Re:News for nerds? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619301)

For those things there is Mailinator [mailinator.com] .

Throwaway accounts should never be, out of all places, registered on Hotmail.com. They suspend your account if you don't login for 30 days. At least Yahoo!Mail or other free alternatives let you forget the account for few months and not get penalized for it.

I'd be scared (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619305)

Just think of all the Chinese/Russian missiles still pointed at your bedroom.

Ebay Item: 6984394348B (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619306)

Ebay should buy the telescope just to sell it. They'd make a packet in exposure and hopefully break even on the sale.

Translation: Good business opportunities for private enterprises here. No need to waste the damn thing.

Re:Ebay Item: 6984394348B (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619376)


To quote that dude from the TV in Robocop:

"I'll buy THAT for a dollar!"

Re:Back to grade school for retraining... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619308)

Correction - Neptune was farther from Pluto from January 21, 1979 to Feb. 11, 1999 [nasa.gov] but at this time Pluto is farther from the sun than Neptune.

Of course, there's debate as to whether Pluto-Charon is a planet with a moon, or a double planet...

- Thomas;

NASA botched robotic servicing last time (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619309)

The "Flight Telerobotic Servicer" [nasa.gov] was supposed to maintain the International Space Station. Didn't work, but total spending was somewhere around $50 million before Congress pulled the plug.

DARPA style contest needed (3, Funny)

modder (722270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619442)



NASA could have one. Build a robot to fix a broken telescope laying around the southern California desert.

Re:Somebody Didn't Read GNAA/Linux Toys (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619310)

Of course, it seems a bit overboard to use GNAA/Linux for something that's only running one process. I've got an old P75 laptop (and it only uses a cord, no brick, too!), and it has an 8.4"x6.3"x640x480x16-bit screen, and an 810MB HDD. It'll run FreeDOS just fine, with a VESA TSR and LxPic (designed for HPLX palmtops, but works great on just about anything that runs DOS). After all, it does fairly well with Win95 (except with only 16MB RAM, it's dog slow). Flip the screen around, devise a latch, make a frame around it, and you've got a good picture frame. I suggest NOT matting it, as the choice of mat depends on the picture, and if it's changing pictures...

Starbucks recapitulating Personics (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619311)

Here's what I posted on Wi-Fi Networking News [wifinetnews.com] about why Starbucks efforts are misguided:

Starbucks reportedly to offer music burning service in up to 2,500 stores: The system will allow customers to have CDs burned while they wait; eventually, it will also allow downloads of music over Wi-Fi, the article in BusinessWeek says.

Starbucks demanded a T-1 (1.544 Mbps in each direction) digital service infrastructure from its first hotspot partner, MobileStar, as well as its second, T-Mobile. I've speculated for a while on how this high-speed network could be used to cache material in each Starbucks, like movie and music downloads.

This latest project sounds somewhat misguided for the reason cited by the Forrester analyst in the article: Your typical barista may be great at making espresso but is not in a position to fix the broken CD burner.

My cousin Steven was involved almost 20 years ago with a company called Personics. The company had worked out a catalog licensing deal with more than 70 labels from the largest down to some independents to allow them to offer custom mix tapes for about a buck a song. This was a reasonable price in those days. The system had a few thousand songs mastered onto CD-ROMs stored in a special employee-operated CD-ROM changer behind the counter. An employee would punch in your choices, and the system created a high-speed cassette tape dub.

The company failed for two primary reasons: the hardware was proprietary, meaning that engineers had to fly around the country to fix it when it inevitably had glitches; and the catalog they offered too small because labels balked at including their most popular stuff for fear of cannibalizing pre-recorded CD and tape sales. (Price, my cousin reports, was not a problem: many customers were willing to pay even more, he noted to me after this item was originally posted.)

If Starbucks creates the expectation of an easy process that's always available and then isn't available even part of the time at any given store, they lose their audience. Starbucks makes its money from processing a high volume of custom drinks--you don't want to distract from that. CD burners aren't that difficult to keep operating, but a failure rate that's a fraction of that experienced by typical home and business users could be a dramatic problem in a high-expectation retail environment.

The article says the price is comparable to Apple and other download services. Two problems with that comparison. First, it's not. It's $7 for five songs, or 40 percent, or $13 for an album, or 30 percent higher. That's a significantly different price when you're dealing with price sensitivity. It's comparable to a mass-produced discounted audio CD.

Second, you're receiving an audio CD, not digital music per se, which could be a turnoff for the audience that might be interested in a fast, in-store music service. (However, since HP is the partner, and is reselling their own version of the iPod, it's possible that the ultimate digital delivery system will be a version of the iTunes Music Store.)

This is the latest incarnation of Compaq-cum-Hewlett Packard's attempts to capitalize on their relationship as a supplier to Starbucks. In January 2001, when the MobileStar deal was announced for installing hotspots, Starbucks made a big deal about Microsoft and Compaq's participation. Compaq wasn't a partner, though; Starbucks had signed a $100 million, five-year deal to buy equipment and services. Microsoft was a partner, and it never seemed to amount to anything that saw the light of day.

In the years since this deal, Compaq and then HP have reaped advertising benefits, appearing in full-page newspaper advertisements as part of the Starbucks hotspot system, even though they had nothing to do with MobileStar and T-Mobile's deployment. At one point, Starbucks had Compaq iPaq's available for customers to play with, and those disappeared, too.

It's this fumbling

Read the rest of this comment... [slashdot.org]

Hey... you GNAA/Linux geeks get all the cool toyz! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619313)

Why can't I get this to run on my WXP machine? I have XP Pro installed....
You linux geeks get all the good toyz!!
Darn you, Darn you to Redmond!

What do I get?

Well.. I guess I do get all the neat patches.

scared (3, Insightful)

mehtars (655511) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619314)

i for one, think that nasa is scared more than anything. I mean, the space shuttle blew up this past year, and it would be bad PR if another one did as well...

people have been saying that tehse shuttles are unsafe for years http://www.economist.com/printedition/displaystory .cfm?Story_ID=2021217

hmmm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619322)

hook it up to the ISS?

Old isn't necessarily the same thing as outdated (1)

Zathras26 (763537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619332)

I agree that the Hubble is getting old, but it's still got plenty of useful life left. There's just no way that any current ground-based telescope can get the same kind of data that the Hubble can right now.

A better telescope can certainly be designed now, and NASA should get on the ball with designing and building it -- but that will take some time, and in the meantime, we should keep the Hubble in good repair because it's still a very powerful and useful tool.

How about the Russians? (3, Insightful)

dmadole (528015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619342)

How about we hire the Russians either to do the work themselves or to transport our guys up to do it?

They seem to have manned launch technology available with a decent reliability and safety record.

It may well be cheaper that it would cost to do it ourselves, as well. Outsourcing, right?

Re:How about the Russians? (1)

T.Hobbes (101603) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619455)

Damn good idea.

Re:How about the Russians? (4, Insightful)

HanzoSpam (713251) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619472)

How about we hire the Russians either to do the work themselves or to transport our guys up to do it?

They seem to have manned launch technology available with a decent reliability and safety record.


Yes, they do have a decent reliability and safety record.

Unfortunately, what they don't have is a space shuttle for transporting the components that need to be replaced.

Re:How about the Russians? (1)

tloh (451585) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619477)

I don't think the Russians have any launch vehicles right now that can accomodate the kind of Extra-Vehicular Activity necessary to service the Hubble. Anyone who knows better, feel free to correct me.

Plan all along? (3, Insightful)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619361)

Hrm, if I was cynical I would say that this was the plan all along.

1) Scrap really popular program.
2) Get everyone yelling to bring it back
3) Say you can't unless because you lack the budget
4) Profit!!

are you kidding?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619364)

This could be a great opportunity for private industry contractors.

This is a great opportunity .. for my army of robot drone-slaves!

Quick, R67/345! Use the InnerNet to relay these commands.. We must SEXTUPLE drone-slave production! Our country needs us.. even though they shunned us after the unspeakable Werner incident, I believe this is our opportunity to make amends.

Yes I agree, Q22/141, that was due to HUMAN ERROR. The family should not have approached L3/35 while he was charging his ESS. But perhaps we should've left of the Barnhart QuickKill(tm) module on such a simple surveillance drone. No matter, our latest drones have triple failsafes against that happening again. Not to mention new SHINY paint.

I bet NASA will LOVE what we've got cooking in Facility 7.. TWELVE different manipulators on that bad boy. Well, better not give away the secrets until we have contracts in hand, eh?

No more idling about, to the ROBODRONE FACTORY!

One word (-1, Flamebait)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619371)

Funding.

Fuck O'Keefe. Political Ass. (oh, wait, Elephant...but real elephants have more brains than either the political elephants or donkeys. Apology.
)

Election year my ass. This will be the year that the political system proves to the public just how fucked up it is. Already well on it's way. Anyone want to bet on voter turnouts next November? I'll bet it dumps 45%.

SB

Risk factors?... (5, Insightful)

xxx_Birdman_xxx (676056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619395)

I find this comment in the article interesting..
.. deeming it too risky to astronauts in the wake of Columbia...

The risk factors haven't changed, those running the space program have always known the risks. It's not like Columbia's terrible accident made those in charge suddenly go "oh, maybe this space stuff is dangerous after all..."

It's not the risk factors that have changed, it's the public's view of the risks that have changed.

Re:Risk factors?... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619448)

But which way has the public's view changed? I think that some percentage of us are more informed of the risks involved, which in itself should be considered a good thing.

On the surface doesn't it appear that Sean O'Keefe is more concerned about avoiding another catastrophe rather than focusing on real safety? That type of thinking leads to unwilligness to take risks which is showing up in the form of bad decisions such as the one that pertains to not servicing the Hubble telescope.

They should get the Russians to do it (1)

Cow007 (735705) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619401)

Lets face it the Russia is the only country right now with a viable manned presence in space. They would be the perfect ones for the job. There the only ones bringing our astronauts to the space station as well.

why not just push it out further? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8619464)

instead of letting it crash down to earth. just send it to a deep orbit and fix it later. or better yet just attach it to the spacestation so its always nearby for repairs from the onboard crew.

Tough call... (2, Interesting)

SillyKing (720191) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619467)

NASA is I'm sure hesitant to send up another shuttle crew for any reason. They are asking astronauts to willingly go into space on a vehicle much older than most peoples cars, to fix a telescope that also has "dated" technology. We are young enough into space exploration that these accidents may happen. We just don't have the tech to make space travel safe just yet. But how many people does the world have that would line up to go into space despite the risks? More than you, or perhaps NASA might think. I for one would like to see the Hubble get repaired/upgraded. They already have the parts. Even if they don't send them up on a NASA shuttle, they can still do the repairs. The pictures that the hubble has taken and can still take are part of what keeps the public interested in space, as well as providing usefull research for the scientific community. 2011 is too long to wait for another deep space telescope.

Uh huh (1, Troll)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619506)

In a desperate effort to save the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA is considering a rescue mission using a robot instead of astronauts.

In a desperate effort to save his ass from public flames, NASA's new administrator is backpedaling in the face of enormous opposition from the community he's just been put in charge of.

Fuck. Him.

and fuck that back when it was first mentioned that K. was going to kill Hubble, that there were a lot of people (including me) who were talking about tele-operated missions to save Hubble (but hey, that would be a budget saver, wouldn't it, Sean, and you're just backpedaling eh? -> you are a fucking political shill who is grasping at straws in the face of huge opposition) but now... oh....wait...it's an election year....

O'Keefe is a worthless POS. Fuck him and all he stands for.

/personal

Hey, Sean. Fuck you. I'm not a professional part of the community, so I can really speak out, you can't take my job away from me. You are a two-bit POS administrator who knows jack-fucking-shit about how important this all is. You're a simpleton political appointee who has no idea how important all this is, or how many people's lives you are screwing up. You goddamn heartless bastard.

Kiss my vampire-hours lily-white ass.

Shadowbearer, an extremely pissed off 25+ yr amateur astronomer. Oh, and Sean, Fuck You, but there are really no words to describe how disgusted the community from Pro-2-Am is with your bullshit.

Yeah, I know I should rant this elsewhere. I will. I have a weekend project now.

SB

PS Mad doesn't even describe my feelings right now.

Re:Uh huh (2, Insightful)

mbrother (739193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619513)

Impressive rant! Simple and to the point. Being in the community and being a bit more circumspect, I would say that O'Keefe has not shown any of the vision that marked Goldin. I wasn't always happy with Goldin, but the man was visionary in the best sense of the word.

Wrongheaded policy (4, Insightful)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619528)

The Hubble telescope continues to make headlines after more than a dozen years. Only last week on the news I saw photos of the deepest (and consequently earliest) space pictures ever taken, and they came from Hubble. Dropping this incredible resource into the ocean because of a relatively small budgetary shortfall is a horrendous waste of taxpayer money.

Chances are, if we crash it, we'll never get another. I'm getting old, I want to see some of those ancient mysteries of space solved in my lifetime.

Eh... (5, Insightful)

Tirinal (667204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8619557)

I honestly don't understand this American concern for human life in such insular situations. Instead of asking for volunteers to rescue the Hubble, NASA has to spend some inordinate amount of money to reduce the risk factor by an impressive tally of 0.01%. There is no shortage of people who would be willing to risk their lives for the advancement of scientific discovery and human knowledge as a whole, yet apparently their passion to actually do something is nothing but vestigial barbaric brovado. Deaths that transpire under mundane circumstances (car accidents, drug-addiction deaths, gang shootings) are shrugged off as just a "fact of life," whereas sacrifices made for the selfless pursuit of nobility are deemed unnecessary and wasteful. Its absurd. There are people in the world who would end their lives forty years before their time in return for the chance to look out into the inky void and see a lone blue-green planet from a vantage point that few others have even dreamed of scaling, yet they are held back because of the terrible national tragedy that might occur if a nameless, faceless human were to die contently in one location rather than despairingly in another.

I dunno. I suppose I'm still bitter about the whole Columbia thing. Millions of people who a week ago didn't know of either the mission or the astronouts on the flight suddenly took it upon themselves to be morally outraged. The astronouts became greater heroes in death rather than life, and even then only to the masses who two months down the line wouldn't be able to remember a single, solitary name.
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