The Hubble Space Telescope is no more.
January 16, 2004 1:01 PM   Subscribe

"The end of an era in deep space exploration draws to a close. The era of the total militarization of space dawns," says the blog of Bruce Garrett, a software engineer for the Space Telescope Science Institute (home of the Hubble). Although I haven't been able to corroborate it at a news source yet, Garrett reports that the word came today from NASA director Sean O'Keefe that servicing missions to Hubble are over.

The President made his announcement on Wednesday, and NASA announced their reorganization in order to fall in line with Bush's plan today. Interestingly, this "reorganization" including support to only manned missions began over a year ago, but O'Keefe still testified to the US Senate in May 2003 that the Hubble would be serviced next in November 2004. Wonder what changed.

We marveled at The Best of Hubble in December 2003. Might be the Last, as well.
posted by pineapple (19 comments total)
Were the gyros always supposed to fail like this? Other satellites seem to last a lot longer without hundred-million dollar repair missions every few years. Fundamental design flaw perhaps?

Also, that "militarization" bit comes out of left-field, even in the original entry. I like my conclusions to logically follow.
posted by smackfu at 1:14 PM on January 16, 2004

Get Your War On Mars.
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on January 16, 2004

The Democratic Rovers [Flash.]
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM on January 16, 2004

Hubble doesn't have any thrusters or engines; it uses the gyros position the telescope to view objects in deep space, and the shuttle to boost its orbit. The gyros are pretty much in constant use, so they wear out eventually.

And yes, what Garrett said is true. I work there as well.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 1:29 PM on January 16, 2004

So Bush wants to go to space, that's really great. Whee.

It'd be nice if he would actually fund it. He's allotting 1 billion in new money and diverting 11 billion from other parts of NASA's budget. Meanwhile there's talk of him putting 1.5 Billion in new money to encourage heterosexual marriages. Interesting set of priorities there.......

Bread meet Circus.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:37 PM on January 16, 2004

One question that comes to mind... is the James Webb Space Telescope safe?
posted by rocketpup at 2:18 PM on January 16, 2004

I'm a bit dumbfounded. Why would we do this again?!?
posted by daver at 2:25 PM on January 16, 2004

To make sure that he can beat the Chinese.
China seems determined to put some people on the moon.
posted by Iax at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2004

Film at 11
posted by y2karl at 3:30 PM on January 16, 2004

As much as I dislike the current administration and it's foolhardy policies, this seems to me to be something that has been considered for a while. has been around since October, and people were discussing it's decommissioning as far back as August.
posted by moonbiter at 3:36 PM on January 16, 2004

Uh, my point being that I don't think it's really an issue driven by the administration's "Operation Martian Freedom" initiative.
posted by moonbiter at 3:40 PM on January 16, 2004

Rocketpup - from the most recent post on Garrett's page...

Beyond Hubble, there is the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST, or as it is now called, the James Webb Space Telescope), which is currently scheduled for launch sometime in 2011. O'Keefe said that he will look into ways to accelerate development of NGST a tad, but that would only bring it forward by a year at best.
posted by mathis23 at 3:52 PM on January 16, 2004

Incidently, Gregg Easterbrook has some interesting (and very negative) comments about Bush's new space plan over at TNR.

It seems to be like Hubble and other deep-space exploration tools have taught us far more about the universe than manned missions ever have (or will). It would be a real shame if these programs are sacrificed for what sounds like would be a totally useless Moon base.
posted by boltman at 5:29 PM on January 16, 2004

Will the military defense contractors get all the NASA money you might ask?
But of course. Halliburton drilling on Mars, I can see it now!

Naturally the costs will become astronomical what with all the cute subsidiary company shell games they love to play.

I look for a new web site any day now promoting scientists for Bush. This move is certain to garner thousands of new voters from the science community. Correct?

I feel united already by this divider occupying the White House. There's no short term profit in science for science's sake.

Certainly Bush consulted with the finest minds in the field before making such a decision. No?! What do you mean its a purely political manuver engineered by Karl Rove? You Bush hater!
posted by nofundy at 5:31 PM on January 16, 2004

This is so awful.
posted by Nelson at 6:32 PM on January 16, 2004

I know very little of the particulars. I just discern patterns. So I'll predict : the Mars Mission is a cover for terminating most of NASA's non-civilian projects and redirecting most of it's budget towards the militarization of space.

I hope I'm wrong.
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 PM on January 16, 2004

troutfishing: I agree completely, except for your misuse of the apostrophe in "its".
posted by lathrop at 11:31 PM on January 16, 2004

nofundy: you actually CAN see it now! From WaPo:

Halliburton's interest in Mars was first pointed out yesterday by the Progress Report, a daily publication of the liberal Center for American Progress. Administration officials scoffed at the idea that Halliburton had anything to do with the development of the space policy, which was headed by Bush's domestic policy adviser, Margaret Spellings, and Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser. Another administration official said Cheney did not take a lead role in the interagency work on the space policy but gauged support on Capitol Hill and served in an advisory capacity.

An industry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the oil and gas industry, including Halliburton, would benefit considerably from technology that was developed for drilling on Mars, including the tools, the miniaturization, the drilling mechanism, the robotic systems and the control systems.

posted by pineapple at 11:51 PM on January 16, 2004

Remember Outland?
posted by homunculus at 12:06 AM on January 17, 2004

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