Engineers Work To Prolong Hubble Space Telescope’s Life
Taken from SpaceNews.
WASHINGTON — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is performing well enough on orbit to give NASA confidence that the mission can last until August, an agency official said June 9.
Engineers recently shut down one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s three operational gyroscopes in an effort to preserve the operating life of the third gyro, thereby pushing Hubble’s science observations into mid-2008.
Scientists and engineers remain hopeful that the telescope will once again get a servicing makeover by astronauts, but a shuttle mission depends on the health of that human spaceflight program. The shuttle is headed for retirement in 2010, with a vaguely defined Crew Exploration Vehicle to be its replacement. Meanwhile, it is not clear when the next flight will take place nor whether a trip to Hubble will be possible.
Keeping Hubble alive and scientifically valuable has become a race against the clock that involves aging hardware and dwindling battery life while solar activity eats away at the satellite’s orbit — and of course, budget considerations.
Hubble packs six gyroscopes and four free-spinning steering devices called reaction wheels, which are used to point the telescope for observations.