Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NASA delays Hubble telescope repair mission

Wired reports that the shuttle mission to repair the aging Hubble Telescope has been delayed for up to a year. The reason for the delay is that Hubble has stopped sending down data. The failure has been traced to the command and data-handling system for Hubble's science instruments, which means that it is now incapable of capturing images of any kind or transmitting them to Earth.

As disappointing as the delay is, NASA/Hubble controllers say that it could not have come at a better time. Had this failure happened after the repair mission, there would have been now way to repair Hubble as this will be the last mission to the aging craft. First step is for Hubble controllers to switch over to a second control channel and bring Hubble back on line. This should take a couple of days. Continuing with the mission and relying on Hubble's last remaining command channel would severely shorten Hubble's remaining life. Plans are to now replace the command and data-handling system which will guarantee Hubble a 5 to 10 lifespan.

<- ap via wired ->

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