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NASA Seeks Proposals For Hubble Robotic Servicing

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the beavis-and-butthead-delighted dept.

Space 182

hcg50a writes "SpaceFlight Now has an article about NASA asking for proposals to mount a robotic mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Such a Hubble-servicing mission would occur toward the end of calendar year 2007. If you like politics mixed with your spaceflight, you can read NASA Administrator O'Keefe's speech in which the announcement was made."

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182 comments

Hmmm... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323859)

Would be funny if some of the Battlebot teams got together and made a proposal. The robotic module gets closer and closer....then suddenly, a huge blade whips out and slices the Hubble in half! PWN3D!!!

Re:Hmmm... (2, Funny)

Nakkel (748351) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324123)

It wouldnt even get close before it gets scorched by Hubbles huge magnifying glass.

21 ways to be a good liberal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324176)

1.) You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal
funding.
2.) You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach 4th-graders
how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.
3.) You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-bidding Americans
are more of a threat than U.S. nuclear weapons technology in the hands of
Chinese and North Korean communists.
4.) You have to believe that there was no art before Federal funding.
5.) You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by
cyclical documented changes in the earth's climate and more affected by
soccer moms driving SUV's.
6.) You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being
homosexual is natural.
7.) You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on
demand.
8.) You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments
create prosperity.
9.) You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but loony
activists who have never been outside of San Francisco do.
10.) You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually
doing something to earn it.
11.) You have to believe that the military, not corrupt politicians, start
wars.
12.) You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts
of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain
parts of the Constitution.
13.) You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.
14.) You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more
important to American history than Mary Washington, Betsy Ross, the American
Pioneer Women, Eleanor Roosevelt, "Rosey the Riveter," and Rosa Parks.
15.) You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial
quotas and set-asides are not.
16.) You have to believe that Hillary Clinton is normal and is a very nice
person.
17.) You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked
anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.
18.) You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail,
but a liar and a sex offender belonged in the White House.
19.) You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag,
transvestites, and bestiality should be constitutionally protected, and
manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.
20.) You have to believe that illegal Democratic Party funding by the
Chinese government is somehow in the best interest to the United States.
21.) You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right wing
conspiracy.

Re:21 ways to be a good liberal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324237)

17.) You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.

You need to insert "Other than Europe" in here somewhere. The rest is pretty accurate though. LOL KTHXbye.

UH huh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323863)

Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal.


Oh no! Might be moderated!!! God help us all!!!!

Extending the technology (5, Insightful)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323874)

The great part of this plan is that it gives NASA a specific goal for implementing robotic repair/servicing. They get to use the project as a testing ground for new technologies, some of which will surely make their way into other future missions. Costs will go down for "routine" orbital missions that can be automated, allowing us to do more in near space and saving the money for other missions demanding astronauts.

Re:Extending the technology (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324126)

You'd be hard pressed to find a mission that demands an astronaut on anything that we reasonably can do in the next 10 years.

I like space flight and the whole prospect of same, but think like a bean counter for a moment. This is fluff.

If I _weren't_ interested in space flight, i'd recommend axing all but a tiny bit of NASA's budget. They don't do much that is useful. Chop out the whole manned space program at the very least. They invested their dollars in a very fragile spacecraft combining all the worst elements of a solid-fueled and liquid fueled rocket. Moreover they took on all the limitations of the airplane. 5 operational craft were constructed, two have been lost. The suggestion is that each craft has a lifespan on the order of 25 flights. All failures to date have been catastrophic, with 7 fatalities apiece.

This is really hard to justify particularly considering that at least Atlantis and Discovery are close to EOL based upon our past experience. Two more disasters to look forward to. It's hard to escape the conclusion that the Shuttle was a flawed design and should not have been built.

While NASA may fly a Shuttle again, the program will never be back 'on track'. I think this is what O'Keefe keeps telling us. The US might wish to keep the *possibility* of using a Shuttle available for military reasons or as an ISS rescue, the program is fundamentally dead. The Shuttle will be retired when some other manned vehicle is made available in the mid-2010s. Hopefully a non-reusable, proven capsule design.

Re:Extending the technology (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324310)

"They don't do much that is useful. "

Excuse me? They absorb the huge surplus of engineers that universities pump out every year. It's a form of welfare. Do you really think that we (the human race) need that many engineers? Where are they gonna go? The other big welfare-for-engineers domain is defense.

Re:Extending the technology (4, Insightful)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324393)

You'd be hard pressed to find a mission that demands an astronaut on anything that we reasonably can do in the next 10 years

If you truly believe that, then you have completely missed the point of going to space at all.

Moreover they took on all the limitations of the airplane. 5 operational craft were constructed, two have been lost. The suggestion is that each craft has a lifespan on the order of 25 flights. All failures to date have been catastrophic, with 7 fatalities apiece.

One of the major problems of the space shuttle was that they couldn't fly it enough. How many test flights do you think a fighter plane gets before it goes into production? How many test flights of the shuttle were there? 3 or 4?

Furthermore, for you to say that all of the failures have been "catastrophic" is blatantly incorrect. They had problems with the tiles from day one that were not catastrophic. They had electrical problems, engine problems of various types and other equipment problems. There have been very few flights that have not had at least one failure of one component or piece of equipment. It's the nature of mechanical and electrical systems to fail at some point and that is to be expected, anticipated, and planned for. NASA does this, for the very most part. The catastrophic failures to date have been with those components for which there were not backups and no failsafe alternatives. That is the part they need to better identify: to overcome the engineering bias that produces blindspots in our perception of what can and cannot reasonably be conisdered a potential single point of failure.

JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (4, Insightful)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323878)

This is getting fucking RIDICULOUS. The astronauts who go up into space do so with full knowledge of the fact that they might not return alive. Yet despite the danger, there are many who are willing to risk their necks. Just send a fucking shuttle! I'd like to know what mental midget suggested that we shouldn't send humans into space in the shuttle any more, since it's "risky". (And was this individual formerly an insurance adjuster, a lawyer, or some other sort of simple-minded human scum?)

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (5, Interesting)

earthstar (748263) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323896)

hey!
It isnt jus the lost of life that is a problem! Even greater problem is that the Reputation of NASAis at stake.
People would then only be talking that " The NASA doesnt know to b ring back their people alive... -so would other countries comment!

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (5, Insightful)

old man of the c (515198) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323899)

NASA is obviously scared to death of another Challenger / Columbia tragedy. They came out looking totally inept in both of those incidents. I believe they fear they would lose all support from the public and (arguably more important) congress if more astronauts are lost. I'm not saying that is the right attitude. It's kind of like saying "I'm afraid of being killed in an automobile accident, so I am going to stop driving."

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Interesting)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323906)

What the fuck is the point of NASA -existing- if they aren't doing human space travel? Commercial entities are already doing unmanned stuff in space (read: satellites out the wazoo) better and cheaper than NASA ever could. NASA's great claim to fame is its achievements with humans in space-- not robots! It's no big deal to put a 'bot in space (unless that 'bot is something spectacular like Hubble), but landing men on the moon is something special...

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Insightful)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323926)

Simply put: the way that the comercial sector has surpased NASA at unmaned objects in Earth orbit, so will the private sector surpass them in human exploration.

Once the technology is in place, and enough CEOs get it in their heads that it's feasible, you'll start to see off-world resource exploitation. The side-effect of that exploitation, of course, is human exploration of the solar system.

NASA is doomed, end of story.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323955)

Once the technology is in place, and enough CEOs get it in their heads that it's feasible, you'll start to see off-world resource exploitation.

Yes, but at what cost?

Do we really want a corporate death-grip on space exploration and, in time, resource exploitation? Governments we can change by voting, corporate boards we can't (unless we can afford to buy a crapload of stocks in the said corp).

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324048)

You change your government by voting? I hadnt noticed.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324059)

You change your government by voting? I hadnt noticed.

Maybe you haven't tried hard enough?

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (3, Insightful)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324068)

Hey, it worked for sea exploration. Columbus was not acting under the authority of Spain, mearly using their money for his own endevor.

You could always incorporate with like minded individuals if you have some goals that you think no one else is paying enough attention.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324313)

Corporations are business like any other.
Don't buy their products.

Econ 101.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Interesting)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323929)

Ah, yes, but to the robot-space-exploration mob, who now after two shuttle disasters are unfortunately winning the fight for politicians' hearts, it is heresy to claim that there are tasks that humans do better than robots. It's the classical cheapskate argument that appeals to the PHBs: instead of sending a human up in space we can send so and so many robots for the same money and no risk of a PR fallout.

And then they wonder why the public finds space exploration boring and don't want to pay for their remote controlled "exploration" either.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323977)

I've got news for you. The most exciting thing humans have ever done in space - the moon missions - was exciting exactly once. By the Apollo 12 mission, lots of people were complaining to the TV networks that their programmes weren't on because of all the boring moon stuff. Apollo 13 raised the figures again, but I don't think you're really calling for an "all disaster, all the time" approach to manned spaceflight, are you?

Modern day manned spaceflight is as boring as you like. "The crew are a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician" pretty much sums it up. Who cares?

So manned spaceflight is

a) a regular PR disaster
b) boring when it isn't being disastrous
c) scientifically pointless

whereas robotic spaceflight is

a) not a disaster
b) no more boring than manned spaceflight
c) scientifically useful

Robots win!

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323990)

a) a regular PR disaster b) boring when it isn't being disastrous c) scientifically pointless

And the reason for the boredom couldn't just happen to be that we're still loitering around in LEO?

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324000)

No, the reason for the boredom is that space is pretty much completely useless. We are never going to live on the Moon, or Mars. We are never going to leave the Solar System. Satellites are as exciting as it gets. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise simply doesn't understand how large, or how hostile, the rest of the Universe is.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324022)

We are never going to live on the Moon, or Mars. We are never going to leave the Solar System.

Ok. Let's just lie down and wait for the next extinction level event to wipe us out. No use in sending probes out there either because it's all futile.

The fact that we're still loitering around in the relativel safe LEO accounts for the boredom and scientifical uselessness. It's the same thing as if the Great Explorers hadn't had the courage to venture out to the deep sea and had kept sailing safely within the sight of the coast.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324049)

Ok. Let's just lie down and wait for the next extinction level event to wipe us out. No use in sending probes out there either because it's all futile.
Correct. I'm glad you've seen sense and abandoned this silly "manned spaceflight" nonsense - there's absolutely nothing we could ever do about a large asteroid, and we can't live on or even get to another planet. People who aren't as sensible as you will also have to admit: we're going to die sometime, and we can't do anything about it.

It's difficult to accept, I know, but it's true, and there's no point making up silly stories like "we could live on MARS!!!1" to try to deny it.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324020)

READ the POST. The MOON MISSIONS were too boring for the vast majority of people, after the first one. ANYTHING in space is INCREDIBLY BORING (and also pointless, which is why most people find it boring).

actually... and let's define terms (4, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324427)

Space flight right now is about as dangerous as it would be expected to be. In terms of experimental flight, the disaster rate is what experimental pilots are used to. And yes, all astronauts know the risks and have accepted them. I'd go tomorrow.

People die driving race cars each year to what end? Dale Earnhart is practially a saint [daleearnhardtinc.com] . We're willing to pour our hearts out and spend billions each year to shove more people into the breach in order to turn left for four hours. So manned space flight is hardly the most risky endeavor we undertake with arguably more return. Where does NASCAR or CART get us? Cars that can do even more speed than is legally allowed? No - they push the envelope of car technology. Ditto all spaceflight. Swap out the Tallageda with RC cars and tell me how many people will show up... Race car drivers are brave and passionate and accept the risks. Ditto astronauts.

It's not about ratings. What the networks think about space missions is moot - there's NASA TV, so the networks are out of the picture. 90% of what NSF and NIH funds is boring and tedious to the general public - but there are people alive today because of it.

As far as robotics is concerned, it's be nice to know what they're aiming for - remember the Solar Max and both Hubble missions? Lots of human decision making involved, improvisation and creativity - if they're talking telerobotics (as in telerobotic surgery) then they've got a prayer. But if anyone has in their mind that they're going to line up autonomous robots to give the Hubble a new lease, then they need to go back to the DARPA challenge and remember that Apollo 11 would have been just another crater on the moon with a robot at the helm instead of human pilots who could avert the near disaster. Robots are better at some things - humans are better at some things. Use them both appropriately, drop the prejudices and accept the risks of exploration.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (3, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323915)

I fully agree.

Everybody has become so obsessed with safety that it's starting to hinder our progress as a species. Not only in the field of exploration but in medical sciences and new drug development, too.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323984)

Not only in the field of exploration but in medical sciences and new drug development, too.
Yeah - why not take some exciting untested drugs? We could have all the fun of another thalidomide!

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Offtopic)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324004)

Yeah - why not take some exciting untested drugs? We could have all the fun of another thalidomide!

Did I say untested?

Drug testing is pathologically conservative these days and it is keeping potentially effective drugs from the markets and driving prices of the new, approved drugs through the roof. This hurts us much, much more in the long run than anomalies like thalidomide (which is back, by the way).

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324062)

You can actually make a living being a human guini pig. The drug companies will pay you thousands of dollars to sit in a controlled environment for a few weeks to months while they test their new phase3 drugs out on you. If you don't might the sideeffects and like lots of time reading and surfing on your laptop then its a great job. I still dont make enough to pay for health insurance though. catch22.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324076)

the drug companies will pay you thousands of dollars to sit in a controlled environment for a few weeks to months while they test their new phase3 drugs out on you.

Yep. I know. I made good money as a student by being a human guinea pig.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324083)

holy shit?! is this true? all this time ive been wasting my time by selling my blood for chump change!!!!! i gotta get me sum of that easy m0!

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324111)

They give the extra special drugs to dumb niggers like you.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324127)

Fucking racist. What are you doing on /.? This is a blog for smart people.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324063)

Actually, the big problem with drug testing is that it's left too much to the corporations with an interest in having the drug pass the tests, so ineffective or dangerous treatments are being passed. This

a) hurts the patients who get the bad treatments
b) holds back progress towards treatments that really work

So what's urgently needed is more, and more rigorous, drug testing.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323921)

The simple fact that people cost more is why robots are a better solution. Sending up humans in a life sustaining environment (shuttle) requires a lot of preparation and money with the danger concerns aside. Sending up a one way robot on a rocket is muchos cheaper by many magnitudes.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323936)

Ah, I was waiting for the cheapskate argument to show up.

Robots do not have human intuition and a desk-jockey running a probe remotely doesn't have the situational awareness required for innovative on-spot decisions.

Read Man on the Moon [amazon.co.uk] and tell me that human mind isn't the most valuable instrument in off world exploration.

Alert! Amazon-link. Do not click. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323969)

Here is a non-evil link [barnesandnoble.com] to the book.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

Saeger (456549) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323968)

Exactly what I was going to say, Mr. AC.

The "send a fucking human" sentiment is just that: emotional sentiment. People like to romanticize about other people like them doing StarTrekkie things that they can relate to, and wish to be doing themselves one day (in human form). Most people are naturally bio-chauvinists, especially in the face of increasingly efficient robotics [blogspot.com] .

--

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323983)

Nice trivialization there: "Emotional sentiment".

Demanding human space exploration has nothing to do with sentiment. 1) There are tasks robots can never accomplish (read my post above), 2) The sooner we master the art and science of getting off this planet, the better our chances for survival as a species are. We must colonize other planets - not tomorrow but NOW!

Sending out robots and probes is nice armchair exploration, but it won't help us when (not if) the next extinction level event hits the Earth.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324024)

bio chauvinists huh. I bet you think your clever. what if I was to call you a zombie robot lover? I believe a certain ST:TNG episode titled ``Hero Worship'' is apropo.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (2, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323927)

"I'd like to know what mental midget suggested that we shouldn't send humans into space in the shuttle any more, since it's "risky"."

Blame Carly!!!!!!
Blame George!!!!
Blame the laywers!!!

And blame the fact that an outsourced droid doesn't have family that can sue if it goes out in a blaze of glory.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323964)

"I'd like to know what mental midget suggested that we shouldn't send humans into space in the shuttle any more, since it's "risky". "

Its not mainly becuase its risky, its just very expensive/complicate and very stupid to send a human when a robot can perform the task better.

For 99.99% of all activites on space (except studies on the human) is better done by robots and machines then astronauts. But since Nasa is 50 % PR and 50 % sciences people will keep going up.

(PS. Speaking about mental midgets, the button on your keyboard called "Caps lock" should not be pressed (nor any of the shift key's) while yer typing the subject line.....DS.)

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324180)

"For 99.99% of all activites on space (except studies on the human) is better done by robots"

Can you show me the studies which give this conclusion?

Do you know how difficult it is to get a robot to recognise a random object and pick it up in the real world? Ignoring the AI side of it and using real people instead, do you know how difficult it is to set up realistic telepresence, visual, audio, force, touch feedback are all needed.

What is trivial for a human being is bleeding edge technology for a robot. This means that it takes a human a fraction of the time to accomplish a given task where the environment is variable. Robots are only "better" at highly repetetive tasks in a controlled environment.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324252)

"Can you show me the studies which give this conclusion?"

No

"Do you know how difficult it is to get a robot to recognise a random object and pick it up in the real world? "

Who said it had to be an autonmous robot ? If we can put together cars with pre-programmed robots and operate nucelar plants with remote controlled, I'm pretty sure that we can think one up that can service Hubble.

Leave the people on the ground and let machines handle these kind of things, autonom or remote controlled.

We both know that the only reason why man travle in space currently is for PR purpose, there is no need for us up there (yet!).

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324308)

"If we can put together cars with pre-programmed robots and operate nucelar plants"

Both of those situations are *highly* controlled environments. Nothing at all like the highly chaotic real world.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324737)

"Nothing at all like the highly chaotic real world"

I would say space is also *controlled*, not much to "bump" into. You can also pretty much ignore gravity, also a plus.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324002)

I'd like to know what mental midget suggested that we shouldn't send humans into space in the shuttle any more
George.

W.

Bush.

In the same breath, he hyped up a manned Mars mission for "way in the future" (read: once his even-possible 2nd term as President is done for), hoping it would gain him some votes from the technologically savvy. Don't fall for the smoke and mirrors.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

SpinyManiac (542071) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324101)

I doubt they care that much about losing the crew. It's the currently irreplaceable shuttle they're worried about.

NASA will restart shuttle flights when they're sure they won't go bang.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324418)

That's true. We are entering a brave new era of armchair living. If we have to send robots out every time something is 'risky', I might as well send a robot to university to study electrical engineering, since there's absolutely no garantee of ever finding a job in that field, despite what the university indoctrinators tell you.
I'm gonna do it!

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN (Plan B) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324588)

JUST SEND THE FUCKING MONKEY.

Re:JUST SEND A FUCKING HUMAN. (1)

faxafloi (228519) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324658)

One problem with sending humans is that you have to bring them down after a week. A robot can stay up for as long as it takes to get the job done.

International Space Station (3, Interesting)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323893)

Now, if only they would make some robots to operate and maintain the International Space Station, they wouldn't have to risk peoples' lives going there for political reasons, and they can wait until they have developed a safer and cheaper launcher and retire the travesty of engineering unholiness that is the Space Shuttle.

Or they could just pay the Russians to launch all their astronauts...

Re:International Space Station (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323972)

Why pay the Russians when you've got Scaled Composites [scaled.com] going up there anyway?

Seriously, this sort of thing looks like a better revenue stream than prizes and 'space tourism' for Scaled to be aiming at, long term.

Re:International Space Station (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323991)

Indeed. :-) I'm really looking forward to the X-Prize being won. People like Rutan make life interesting and fun.

Re:International Space Station (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324118)

Why pay the Russians

Are you mad? You don't just stop paying the Russians. They'll sic Igor after us and we'll just end up in a world of hurt. No, it's better to keep paying them.

Re:International Space Station (1)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324277)

they can wait until they have developed a safer and cheaper launcher and retire the travesty of engineering unholiness that is the Space Shuttle.

You could have developed a better reusable space vehicle in 1981, could you?

It's not like NASA thinks the shuttle is the only space vehicle we'll ever need. They are working on the shuttle's successor but it takes a lot of time to develop these things. And really, a large number of problems with the shuttle were maintenance issues, not design issues. No matter how great a piece of engineering you have, human error can always break it .

Hope this works but... (3, Interesting)

Linus Sixpack (709619) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323909)

Another article I read mentioned decomissioning a lot. NASA needs to attach some sort of engine to hubble to be able to crash it safely where it wont kill anyone.

I hope they are able to service it, but I think they might be more concerned with how its going to fall.

ls

Re:Hope this works but... (4, Informative)

acceber (777067) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323942)

I hope they are able to service it, but I think they might be more concerned with how its going to fall.

Once the Webb telescope is launched ~2010, the Hubble will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere around that time, depending on the impact of the Sun on the upper atmosphere.
It is expected to burn up on re-entry although the main mirror probably won't which could result in casualties.

To have a controlled landing, NASA were planning to attach a propulsion module to the satellite - but that requires a servicing mission which is of course currently the issue being hotly debated. And it seems NASA doesn't even have the technology to do that, only Russia does.

Re:Hope this works but... (1)

LordPixie (780943) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324562)

Another article I read mentioned decomissioning a lot. NASA needs to attach some sort of engine to hubble to be able to crash it safely where it wont kill anyone.

If we're going to go through the effort of attaching a rocket to Hubble, we might as well make it crash where it will kill someone. As long as it hits someone no one likes, it's nothing but good PR for NASA !

And you can't say you don't want to see the pinnacle of deep space exploration come crashing into Redmond at seven times the speed of sound...


--LordPixie

Heh heh heh (1, Funny)

dmayle (200765) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323928)

(Picture Beavis and Butthead)

Heh heh heh... Did he just say robotic servicing? Huh huh...

Robots or humans? (3, Insightful)

Zarks (783916) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323938)

They definetly should continue to maintain hubble, the amazing pictures it sends back are well worth it. If a robot can do it just as well as a human then there is no point in risking astronauts lives for no reason. If however it can't be then I think it is worth a small risk to send a few astronauts up there. If NASA are too concerned with risks and tiny chances of things going wrong then they will never be able to do anything worthwhile with people in space.

Dexterity RULES! (1)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324283)

Hubble Space Telescope was designed in the
1970's, using 1970's technology. Prior
manned servicing missions to HST required
months of training in order to obtain a
successful mission. Specialized tools and
developed dexterity skills were required
in order to remove equipment (in order to
access other equipment). The complex
motions, including disconnecting electrical
couplings strickly by feel (through a space
glove no less) are not likely to be attained
by a robot. Precision motions by robots
require point of origin markers (optical or
mechanical) that were never included in
the design of the Hubble Telescope.

One of the largest problems with Hubble
is the longevity of it's gyroscopes, which
have been failing more rapidly than their
design parameters. Unforunately, the only
likely robotic mission to HST will be to
attach auxillary rockets for de-orbiting it.
And considering the big mess made by US Skylab
when it came down, a gentle push toward the sun
is the more likely outcome.

The replacement space telescope is NOT a
true functional equivalent, as it operates
in the IR spectrum. The beautiful and
mysterious visible light images that
Hubble Space Telescope made available to
humanity will not be part of this next
generation instrument. NASA must resort
to the riskly venture of a manned mission
to service HST if it is to continue
operations.

My Electrolux (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323958)

has already volunteered. He says he wants to make Hubble the cleanest telescope in space.

Another Hubble? (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323962)

Given that we allready know how to build one, can it be that hard?

Although I still don't see why the James Web scope is so far away...

Re:Another Hubble? (1)

hazee (728152) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324353)

I don't think there are any shuttles left with holds big enough to store it for launch. I seem to recall that Columbia was the only shuttle that could fit the Hubble inside.

NASA Seeks Proposals For Removing Cmdrtaco's Penis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9323992)

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda stepped off the bus and was led into the yard of the Main
State Correctional Institute. He had been given ten years for participating in
a stock fraud. Five with good behavior. Years spent basking in the glow of a
CRT had been hard on him. His body was frail, his skin pallid. He knew he could
never make it through ten years in the general population with his virginity
intact. He had to get into solitary.

As soon as the burly guard unshackled him he made his move. Exhaling a feminine
"hmmph" he weakly slapped the guard. He was quickly taken to the ground,
receiving a swift kick to the ribs before being restrained. As he was dragged
to the solitary confinement cell he felt nothing but relief. "At least in
solitary," he thought "I'll be safe." Unfortunately for Rob he had picked the
wrong guard to mess with.

The next few days were uneventful. The time in his cell he spent evenly between
sleeping, reading a "Perl for Dummies" book he had gotten from the book cart,
and masturbating furiously. His self-flagellation was interrupted on the fourth
day. The burly guard he had attacked earlier stepped into his cell. The gleam
in the guards eye and the mean grin on his face made Rob's pecker quickly
shrivel in his hand. "You fucked with the wrong man when you fucked with
Michael Simms," said the guard. "The inmates here call me The Asshole for a
reason. Now come with me, punk."

The guard led him down the hall to one of several empty shower stalls. He
roughly threw Rob in the stall and locked the door. Rob was petrified. His mind
raced as he imagined the myriad of different tortures that could be in store
for him. His worst fears were confirmed when the guard returned. In his hands
were a short black dress, black stilleto heels, and a curly blonde wig. "Strip
down and put this on, bitch." Rob did as instructed and was pleased to notice
that the dress fit well and the heels gave him a nice slimming effect. The
burly guard admired the drag queen. "The GNAA is gonna love you!"

The guard left the shower stall, only to return minutes later. He opened the
door and led 20 large black men into the stall. "Rob, meet the Gay Nigger
Association of America. GNAA, meet Rob. I'm sure you all will get along fine."
With that the guard slammed the shower door closed and walked away laughing.

The men approached Rob, backing him into a corner. The apparent leader stepped
forward. "No matter what I'm gonna fuck that purdy lil' ass of yours. Now I can
fuck it dry or you can lube it up for me." Rob knew he had no choice. He
kneeled in front of the leader, who began to slap his face with his 10 black
inches. Puss from syphilictic sores quickly covered Rob's cheeks. When the
leader was sufficiently aroused he placed his throbbing cock up to Rob's lips.
As soon as Rob opened his mouth the leader violently shoved his manhood to the
back of Rob's throat and exclaimed "Swallow my shit you cracker bitch!" Rob
gagged as he was violently face fucked.

Just when he was about to pass out the leader pulled out, turned him around and
shoved his cock into Rob's ass. Rob began to scream in agony but his cries were
quickly muffled by one of the other gang member's cocks. They rode him like
that for the better part of an hour. When one man finished another quickly took
his place. Just as Rob was getting used to the throbbing pain in his anus the
men stopped. One man lay down on the floor and Rob was told to get on top of
him and take his dick inside him. Exhausted and humiliated, Rob had no will
left to fight. As soon as he inserted the penis another man came up behind him
and began to force his cock into Rob's already filled anus. Again his screams
of agony were muffled, this time by a smelly black anus.

For another hour he was violated in this way. When the men were finished with
him he couldn't walk and his mouth was filled with dingleberries and ass hairs.
Before they all left the leader had some parting words for Rob: "Thanks for
that sweet piece of ass, punk. We'll see you again tomorrow. Oh by the way, we
all have AIDS." It was going to be a long ten years for Rob.

and where exactly... (2, Insightful)

quetzalc0atl (722663) | more than 9 years ago | (#9323994)

...are the politics in O'keefe's speech? I didn't see any, save the following:

"Finally, NASA's space astronomy activities are integral to the President's vision of extending humanity's exploration and discovery horizons. As we pursue this vision, we will continue to build space-based telescopes to expand our capabilities."

does that make it political?

Re:and where exactly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324236)

No, bush just wants to save the Hubble so he can turn it around and find WMD's!!!!

Nuts (3, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324010)

Finally, NASA's space astronomy activities are integral to the President's vision of extending humanity's exploration and discovery horizons.

I hate how everything has to be stated as if it was Bush's ideas and vision that pushes the country. Why couldn't he say "NASA's space astronomy activities are integral to our vision of extending humanity's exploration and discovery horizons." Bush is neither scientist nor visionary.

It's like the joke that Bush is supreme commander of American troops -- a man who has no real military experience. If I was in the armed services I would find that insulting.

Re:Nuts (0)

USAPatriot (730422) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324102)

Maybe he was thankful to have a President who doesn't cut their budget like the previous one did. Bush has actually a given NASA a clear vision for the future, and plans to fund it, not just pay lip service to it.

Also, The President is the Commander in Chief, that comes with being elected President. He also served in the National Guard, that is real military experience. There are different ways of serving your country, that is one legitimate path. I find it funny that people whine about Bush's service, but defend Clinton, the draft-dodger who never served in anything. That is insulting.

Re:Nuts (1, Offtopic)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324287)

I find it funny that people whine about Bush's service, but defend Clinton, the draft-dodger who never served in anything.

In the autumn of 1969, Clinton entered the draft [awolbush.com] but received a high number in the lottery (311) and was never called to serve. Geroge W. Bush got a cushy assignment flying National Guard jets in Texas. Or was it Alabama? Whatever, it seems he wasn't sure either [awolbush.com] . For fun and extra credit, compare Bush and Kerry [awolbush.com] .

Re:Nuts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324338)

Clinton's Draft Deferrment

In the autumn of 1969, Clinton entered the draft but received a high number (311) and was never called to serve -- however, Clinton made every effort to avoid the draft prior to entering it.

First, Bill Clinton received education deferments while at Georgetown and Oxford (where he helped organize demonstrations against the war). Second, Clinton attempted to avoid the draft for four years by enrolling, but never joining, the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Clinton had enrolled in the ROTC hoping to avoid military service for four years, but, wanting a future in politics, had a change of heart and entered the draft.

In December 1969, safe from the draft with his high lottery number, Clinton changed his mind about joining the ROTC program and wrote a letter to the director of the ROTC program thanking him "for saving me from the draft" and regretted misleading him by not revealing the extent of his opposition to the war. The letter was leaked by the Pentagon to ABC news early in the 1992 fueled criticism of candidate Clinton's character.

Later in the 1992 campaign, it became known that Clinton's uncle had attempted to get Bill Clinton a Navy Reserve assignment during the Vietnam war. Clinton said he didn't know anything about it to the press on September 3, 1992 but a day later admitted that a former draft board member had informed him of his uncles' attempt several months before.

Re:Nuts (2, Interesting)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324741)

I find it funny that you are a short-sighted flag waving cheerleader who has to bring clinton up for bush's mistakes. I don't defend clinton. I have a general hatred for politicians, and I wish they had kicked him out of office, BUT; Clinton didn't try to drag the country into unpopular wars on false pretenses. Clinton didn't destroy or highly damage our credability abroad. Clinton isn't a right wing psycho, with a crazy cabinet such as Donald "unknown known unknowns" Rumsfeld, or John "I hate happiness and art, lets clothe the justice statue" Ashcroft. I'd take Clinton over bush any day of the week.

Bush's vision of Nasa's future is a pipe dream. Lets go to Mars, and stop at the moon on the way and use it as a base? Wha exactly are we going to DO on mars? Would it be a triumphant occassion? Sure. Would it really do anything in the long run? Maybe, but I bet not. Going to a planet within our solar system is a LOT different than finding ways to reach beyond that solar system. Don't give me bullshit about testing new technologies, you can send up a rocket and not have to send it to a planet to test engine theories.

Re:Nuts (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324154)

You shouldn't find it insulting. The US has a long, long history of civilian control of the military, and this is why we have never had so much as the tiniest hint of a military coup since the country was founded. The fact that the President, whoever he may be, is commander in chief of the military is a supremely good thing.

Re:Nuts (1)

bwy (726112) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324179)

It's like the joke that Bush is supreme commander of American troops -- a man who has no real military experience. If I was in the armed services I would find that insulting.

If Bush had served in the Military as say, a pilot, for 20 years, you'd be saying how he wasn't qualified to do anything BUT be Commander in Chief. You'd say he had no experience running a large organization. Leaders, whether politicians or CEO's, need to have qualities of their own. To be successful, The CEO of Microsoft or Sun doesn't have to have spent 20 years of his life coding, marketing, and doing every little task everyone in the organization does. Most people who've spent 20 years coding wouldn't be able to keep a large organization afloat, quite honestly. This is why a President has a cabinet and a CEO has a CTO, etc.

Make whatever argument you want about Bush, but make it a better one- your attempted argument would be true of just about any President. You argument is honestly so weak I half expect you're just trolling.

BTW, I live in a military town and am surrounded by friends and family who are serving or have served. They do respect Bush. Can't say the same about Clinton. You see, he had this little problem with adultry, while in office, that would have caused anyone serving under him to be excused from service.

Re:Nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324348)

Bah - I can't imagine anyone respecting Bush.

And leave Clinton out of this - like it or not he a damn good President, the adultery has nothing to do with any of this (And shouldn't have led to the attempted impeachment nor morons like you bitching about it - the man has a private life to and is entitled to it.)

Re:Nuts (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324346)

"It's like the joke that Bush is supreme commander of American troops -- a man who has no real military experience."

Many presidents have no military experience. Why is it a big deal about Bush?

"I hate how everything has to be stated as if it was Bush's ideas and vision that pushes the country. Why couldn't he say "NASA's space astronomy activities are integral to our vision of extending humanity's exploration and discovery horizons." Bush is neither scientist nor visionary."

Stating it in this fashion I beg to ask; who are the "our" (as in "our vision)? Bush may not be a scientist but everyone is a visionary in some fashion. And to be blunt, if the "our" you make refrence to is the United States public than certainly Bush deserves the credit. By and far the public doesn't not support a well funded space program. Bush is actually probably losing votes in dumping this cash into NASA.

I've been over this time and time again. The public has no interest in the kind of research that goes into the space program because they do not understand the benifits. Private industry is going to have to be the ones to make real headway here. A tax payer funded space program only causes more problems in the publics eye.

It's pretty unfortunate that the slashdot crowd seems to be more into making this into a political issue and ignoring the science. If Bush's name wasn't mentioned would it make it better? Would it make the science involved any different? Be thankful that NASA still has funding because Joe Taxpayer doesn't give a damn about anything outside of NASCAR, Coors Light and pr0n.

Re:Nuts (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324493)

Many presidents have no military experience. Why is it a big deal about Bush?

Because Bush likes to dress up like he's in the military and swagger about.

If Bush's name wasn't mentioned would it make it better?

Yes.

Re:Nuts (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324764)

"If Bush's name wasn't mentioned would it make it better? Yes."

Pretty sad that you can make that statement with a straight face. But it seems more and more that the average /. user is less about science and more about politics.

Mod me as a troll but first prove me wrong. There was a time when this type of political flim flam would have been considered flaimbait instead of those of us who try to squelch it.

Bush and Lincoln (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324681)

It's like the joke that Bush is supreme commander of American troops -- a man who has no real military experience. If I was in the armed services I would find that insulting.

Mr. Bush did not serve on active duty, but 3+ years as a successful wartime president counts for a lot. If you had lived during his time I am sure you would have criticized Lincoln for the same thing. The Commander-In-Chief in the U.S. is a civilian by design. President Bush's war on terror has been nothing short of heroic.

Re:Bush and Lincoln (1, Offtopic)

pubjames (468013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324765)

President Bush's war on terror has been nothing short of heroic.

What a low bar you have to jump these days to become a hero. Sad.

There were some youths in my street last week writing obscenities on a wall. I phoned the police. According to your criteria for a hero, that makes me one.

Caution on Robotic Repair missions (2, Interesting)

shuz (706678) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324095)

I believe we as a nation and world you proceed with caution with the endevour of Robotics servicing. Eventually I can see automated stations to be an in space launch bed for satelites as well as increasing human missions. First I feel we need to develop robotic repair vehicles slowly. Create a vehicle send it up but also send up the human factor as well. I would suggest testing this robotic repair vehicle on a "safe" satelite that needs maintanence that a normal human shuttle mission would do. Give us the option to both closely monitor the first robotic repair vehicle in space as well as keep the option to retrieve and or repair the satelite with a human shuttle. The design of this robotic vehicle should be one that can use the international space station as a docking platform. Make it reusable with either a cheap hydrogen/oxygen drive or put in an ion drive(though I don't know the feasability of this and docking with the ISS). Oddly enough we are a throw away society, we still use booster rockets that are disposible.(I know that part of the booster rocket system is reusable but I don't remember which of the top of my head. is it the small ones?) Lets work together with the EU, Russia, China, and the Japanese and develop this next space technology, a permanent space repair robot. Please NASA do not make this a one use robot, I bet over time it would cost more money. Thank you

Re:Caution on Robotic Repair missions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324574)


I believe you as a poster and slashdotter have proceeded with caution with the endevour of using the BR tag

It will be interesting to see. (4, Interesting)

howman (170527) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324115)

The article leaves the possibilitys open for unmanned launch and repair/upgrade systems to be developed. I can see some of the teams from the autonomous challange, as covered to death here on /. in recent months, being quite interested in developing this technology.
I am all for sending people into space as being there is part of the point, but I am very interested in the technology that will come out of these proposals over the next 20 years.
If we look at some of the things that have made their way into our homes thanks to r+d from NASA, I can see a time when not only is may car built a la Minority report Lexus, but it can be repaired just as easily in the same fashion.
Here, in Japan, we have these great car washes that you park your car under and they move from the front to the back cleaning and then drying. I don't know if they are around the US, I have not seen any in Canada, but it would be nice , when my car breaks down, or that crazy useless check engine light comes on, if I can just pull into one of these things, pop in my warranty card, and have the machine fix whatever is wrong with it.
granted lots of hard working people, as we see the workforce right now, would lose their jobs if it were to all of a sudden come into being, but given time and reclasification of jobs, I think that in the same way typesetters became typests become data entry clerks, assembly line workers will become robotic assembly line technitions.
On another note... I started to fully understand 'whither' about three quarters of the way through his speech...

Price of Robot vs new Hubble (4, Interesting)

gdesignrr (710134) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324150)

While a custom robot designed to repair the Hubble sounds cool, how much is something like that really going to cost, compared to ... say... a new Hubble?

Re:Price of Robot vs new Hubble (2, Insightful)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324368)

Build another Hubble, you've just compounded the problem. The new Hubble will require servicing, planned and unplanned.

Build/develope a robotic servicing system, you've opened up hundreds of servicing opportunities in space.

Hubble cost about 1.5 billion and has a yearly cost of about 250 million.

Re:Price of Robot vs new Hubble (1)

kevin7kal (698673) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324392)

When it comes to NASA investing money in technology, it's usually a good thing.

You have to remember that most everything with NASA is an experiment. NASA tends to try to take technology to its threshold. That technology then finds other uses in terestrial industry or in later missions.

If NASA invests their money in a robot to fix the Hubble and it costs more than a new hubble. That robot will probably remain in service for other such missions as repairs on the ISS, and other satelites.

does anyone else see this (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324224)

Does anyone else notice maybe a start to "skynet"

The robots would have to be decently smart to take care of things. Then, if this works we have them do all our space works. The moon (needs to be even smarter) and mars (they just have to be straight up AI). Is this the beginning? And if so, where the hell is john conner at to stop this?

Re:does anyone else see this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9324263)

The only thing John Conner managed to stop was his own death.

Hey, forgetting something? (3, Insightful)

Jonsey (593310) | more than 9 years ago | (#9324722)

Latency to LEO isn't more than about 300ms (I remember that Sattelite internet access has at least a 250ms latency, and IIRC the sats for that are higher up.

Regardless, while playing around with that much latency isn't fun, it's also not too hard to beam signals up that far... Why don't we just use a "robot" in the battle-bot sense for this, and have an R/C fixer go up there?

I mean, it's not nearly as nifty, but it's also pretty fool-proof compared to sending up an AI. Maybe a mix approach would work, like our Mars Rovers, or maybe after the gyros & whatnot are fixed on hubble, we let it go AI on other less-critical repairs?

Sound logical to anyone else?
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