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Hubble Service Prize

Posted by: rpspeck - Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:33 pm
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Hubble Service Prize 
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Post Hubble Service Prize   Posted on: Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:33 pm
The National Space Society is pushing the message that, by White House Directive, funding for a Hubble Service mission “will be wiped from the budget”. (March, 2005)

I claim no supernatural insight into the vicissitudes of political policy, nor ability to change it. I understand that a multibillion dollar “blank check” for what is viewed as a slim chance to save this valuable asset might be money poorly spent. So, do this:

Offer a One Billion Dollar prize for a successful (probably, but not necessarily manned) service mission to Hubble.

There is no chance that this asset can be replaced for less money. This is probably less than what has been invested into upgrade hardware, designed to fit this instrument, which can be installed in this effort. The mission itself is easier than Bigelow’s challenge, and the reward 20 times larger! I believe that a group of very motivated individuals will tackle this challenge, and succeed! (With Elon Musk at the forefront). And, should THIS effort fail – unlike the traditional approach – no money is spent!

I realize that this is unpalatable to public agencies. “It is okay to spend a billion dollars, and receive no benefit, as long as the rules are followed.” It is unthinkable to allow someone to walk off with a half billion dollar profit, just because they knew how to get the job done for less that the preset price. This approach went out with the airmail contracts!

A somewhat more traditional option would involve a service contract. (But in fact agencies have been avoiding these for similar reasons). If this worked better (politically) limit the reward for the first mission to $100 Million, with a additional $8 Million for each subsequent month that saw the Hubble still operating. Additional service missions would be provided by the winning contractor as necessary to sustain operation – possibly for decades.

Or, possibly more in tune with current national policy, deed Hubble to our international partners, and let them come up with the prize money to sustain this incredible research tool!


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:54 pm
Unfortunately, the probability of any of the above (perfectly reasonable) concepts coming to fruition lies somewhere in the range between slim and none.

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Post Dr. Diamandis can get this sponsored in congress!   Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:44 am
This is an open letter to Dr. Peter H. Diamandis:

Dr. Diamandis,

I did not have occasion to talk or communicate with you personally in my role as leader of the Micro-Space X Prize team. However, I believe the following idea deserves your attention.

The National Space Society is pushing the message that, by White House Directive, funding for a Hubble Service mission “will be wiped from the budget”. (March, 2005)

I claim no supernatural insight into the vicissitudes of political policy, nor ability to change it. I understand that a multibillion dollar “blank check” for what is viewed as a slim chance to save this valuable asset might be money poorly spent. However, rather than abandon hope, let congress do this:

Transfer title of this asset to the X PRIZE Foundation, on the condition that they can arrange for a manned servicing mission to reach, and upgrade the Hubble telescope.

Let that organization offer a One Billion Dollar prize for a successful service mission.

There is no chance that this asset can be replaced for less money. This is probably less than what has been invested into upgrade hardware, designed to fit this instrument, which can be installed in this effort. The mission itself is easier than Bigelow’s challenge, and the reward 20 times larger! I believe that a group of very motivated individuals will tackle this challenge, and succeed! (With Elon Musk at the forefront). And, should THIS effort fail – unlike traditional approaches – no money is spent!

The prize offering can be funded by agreements from the international community (and the US if it so desires) to pay for use of this incomparable asset.

I believe that after your wonderful success with the X Prize last year, you will be able to find a sponsor willing to propose a bill of this sort in congress – and that given the suggested action, this amazing instrument will be preserved and upgraded (with no public cost or risk) instead of being destroyed!

Thank you for your attention. (PS, while I have your attention, I would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate in “Zero G” flights a “Man Maneuvering Unit” (suitable for use by orbital tourists) and a long duration life support system.)

Richard P. Speck Micro-Space, inc. 4/11/2005


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:46 am
Wouldnt it be possible just to get the Hubble in a bit of a higher orbit and then when the time is right, fix the telescope?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:04 pm
Stefan wrote:
Wouldnt it be possible just to get the Hubble in a bit of a higher orbit and then when the time is right, fix the telescope?
I thought of that too. They are planning to send an automated "tug" to de-orbit the thing. Couldn't the tug just put it in a better orbit instead. Maybe one that the shuttle could reach and also be able to abort to the space station in an emergency? But then what do I know.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:22 pm
I seem to remeber of having read or made that suggestion too already. The answer was that the ISS and the Hubble telescope are at different orbits - so a Shuttle cannot fly from the ISS to Hubble. The Shuttle needs a special launche to fly to Hubble - and this NASA doesn't want to do for well-known reasons.

Or did I misunderstand the post?



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:36 pm
The reason i ment for putting it in a higher orbit, would be that the 'orbit-life' would be increased. Not only wants NASA to deorbit the Hubble because they dont want to spend money in it, they also dont have much time because the orbit itself will decline on itself thus crashing into the earth at a spot they dont want it.
So, if you would simply put it in a higher orbit, eg. the machine doing the deorbit would probably only need reprogramming, it can orbit longer and when the time is right, we can fix it. That is, if they ever gonna build that space elevator, since that is going to be the ultimate pricecutter.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:43 pm
Isn't the problem the exhaustion of propellant for corrections of the orbit?



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:57 pm
Stefan wrote:
The reason i ment for putting it in a higher orbit, would be that the 'orbit-life' would be increased.
Hubble is already in a quite high orbit, higher than ISS I believe. If they could put in a still higher orbit, maybe they could instead change the orbital plane enough to allow the shuttle to reach both Hubble and ISS on the same flight. The only reason they don't want to send the shuttle to repair it is the inability to seek refuge at the ISS in the event of damage preventing the shuttle's safe reentry. The tug would need to be bigger in that case though, since the needed change would be larger than a simple de-orbit.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 5:00 pm
What about strapping an ion engine onto Hubble and spiralling it out like SMART-1 to the moon or in a safe orbit for a future repair mission?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 5:13 pm
The whole idea is to repair it BEFORE it fails. We just need to keep Hubble operating a few more years until the next generation telescope is launched. A dead telescope in a stable orbit with no repair scheduled is no better than a reentered and destroyed telescope IMO.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:10 pm
I guess the questions are:

If Hubble was going to fail once the next generation of telescope was in orbit would it still be worth saving?

If paying for the Hubble mission meant that the next telescope was delayed by a couple of years would it still be worth saving?

Would the service mission achieve an increase in Hubble's performance that would justify the cost?

Is it necessary that a Hubble mission would cost more than a deorbit only mission given that the parts for Hubble's repair are all made and the de-orbiting motor/equipment has yet to be designed?

If Hubble was an old car that needed an expensive service would you do it, perhaps if the car was a Maclaren F1 you would. :)

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:16 pm
Isn't the next generation space telescopes that formation-flying 'field' at Lagrange 1 or 2? That's gonna have to be a long wait then.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:19 pm
All excellent questions. It seems NASA has considered those exact questions and decided that the correct answer is......
de-orbit.

Well, that is their decision. Anyway, it is only a matter of time. Eventually the telescope will be decommissioned. And when it is (whenever it is), I have a simple proposal.

Current mission rules prohibit aiming the telescope closer than 45 degrees to the Sun. I assume this is to prevent damage should unfiltered sunlight accidentally reach the detectors. NASA should consider relaxing this rule for the last few weeks of Hubble’s life. If the instruments were damaged the loss would be small since the telescope will shortly be out of service anyway. For just a few weeks at the very end it could image Venus and Mercury and search for Vulcanoid asteroids. Not much to loose if the instruments get damaged and possibly a lot to gain.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:55 pm
There might be a glimmer of hope for Hubble given the two attached articles.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... Id=4586817

http://space.com/news/griffin_hearing_050412.html

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