Hubble Space Telescope - Orbital Reconfiguration Mission

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north_star_rising

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It was suggested a number of times by a group called the International Space Agency (ISA) that the Hubble Space Telescope should be moved into an Formation Orbit with the International Space Station. This could be achieved with a Non-Shuttle Mission. A specially designed space tug could be launched on a standard expendable launch vehicle, and “dock/hard mate” with the Hubble Space Telescope, and Slowly and Gently move the Hubble Space Telescope into a Close Formation Orbit with the International Space Station. Once this was achieved, Crews from ISS could make EVA transits to the Hubble for routine repair and maintenance. Also when the Shuttle is used to send up repair equipment for Hubble, the Mission can be two in one, Hubble & ISS both at the same time.<br /><br />The International Space Agency has also proposed that an Orbital Transfer Bus be Stationed at the ISS and used to shuttle from ISS to other Satellites in Earth Orbit for Repair & Refurbishment and or Capture Missions.<br /><br />Both of these suggestions have gone unheeded and ignored for several years now.<br /><br />This strategy would make better use of ISS, and make it more central to Orbital Operations.<br /><br />It also would make better use of Shuttle Missions.<br /><br />Also, Orbital Refueling capability and facilities in near formation orbit with the ISS, would enable the Space Shuttle to be refueled on Orbit for more Expanded Orbital Operations. A modular fuel cell could be fitted in the Shuttle Cargo Bay, Empty On Launch, and serviced in Near ISS Formation Orbit, and would give the Shuttle Great Orbital Transitional Abilities. The bulk fuel could be sent up separately in small RLV tankers, which would service the fuel depots near ISS, and which the Shuttle & Space Tugs could use for expanded Orbital Transitional Missions.<br /><br />Dr. Werner Von Braun, Rocket Systems Genius, in the 1950's, had also said this was badly needed for Orbital Operations. So it is not a new idea, by any me
 
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ve7rkt

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Cool idea, but...<br /><br />1) That's going to be some big honkin' space tug that you lift to push Hubble for its orbital plane change (what is it, 28deg to 51deg or so?), which must necessarily be pushed by a massive rocket to get it to Hubble in the first place. I understand it's going to be a weak push to avoid damage, but it's going to be a *long* push requiring a lot of propellant.<br /><br />2) I have trouble imagining the Shuttle servicing the HST and ISS at the same time, because I was led to believe the Shuttle is pretty packed already when it goes to the ISS. There isn't room for payload or crew time for anything else.<br /><br />3) The orbital transfer bus (I prefer 'taxi') you propose to be based at the ISS to run astro/cosmonauts from ISS to HST doesn't exist, except in the form of the Fishbone, from the very cool but not quite hard science Japanese animation series "PlanetES".<br /><br />4) [I had raised some comments about fuel tankers, transfers, etc... but since Progress currently refuels the ISS, my comments are invalid.]<br /><br />5) In another thread it was mentioned that the ISS' orbit is a lousy place to do astronomy. I'm not an astronomer so I'm not the one to ask, but it could be that the HST in the ISS' orbit wouldn't be worth keeping alive.
 
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najab

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The dV requirement to go from HST orbit to ISS orbit has been calculated to be about 80% of that required to reach orbit. Therefore, the launch vehicle to put the tug in orbit would have to be capable of carrying a mass of propellant equivalent to itself into orbit.
 
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odysseus145

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Could an ion engine be used to move Hubble? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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ve7rkt

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It takes less energy to move out from an equatorial LEO orbit to the MOON, than it takes to shift planes from the ISS' to the HST's. Orbital Recovery Corp has designed what looks like a very nice system for boosting orbits, but note that the Spaceref article you post about Hubble & an Orbital Recovery mission is written by Dennis Wingo, <i>a manager at ORC</i>. Not quite unbiased. I'm not knocking ConeXpress, I love the idea of reboosting satellites, but this isn't the job it was built for.<br /><br />An ion engine could move Hubble. You could use anything from ion drive to liquid fuel to a truckload of Estes 1/2A3 model rocket motors, as long as it pushed. But you need a LOT of whatever push you give. If you use liquid fuel you need to lift a rocket engine and a heck of a lot of liquid fuel; if you use ion drive you need to lift the engine, solar panels, and the part that everyone seems to forget, the xenon propellant.<br /><br />Articles about cargo ships (ATV, Salyut Tug) don't seem relevant to me.<br /><br />And the last link you posted isn't even an article, it's a picture of a tin can with arms from a kid's book. I have a copy of Space Traveller's Handbook: Every Man's Comprehensive Manual to Spaceflight, written from a fictional 2061 where everything they told us in the 1970's came true, and you land your OTV at Clavius Base on the Moon to take on standardized tanks of hydrazine for the return trip to meet a JAL shuttle. It's a fun read, but it's a collection of dreams. Again, I turn to Japanese animation for a cooler looking tin can with arms.<br /><br />Got any articles where the people who actually use the telescope say they could still make use of it if it were in the ISS' orbit?
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Could an ion engine be used to move Hubble? <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />In theory, any technology can do it. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> The trick is doing it before Hubble deorbits naturally, and finding a way of getting enough prop and thrust to acheive it in the available time. I'll see if I can run some numbers to get a good SWAG. Ion engines are a particular interest of mine (though I'm definintely a layperson, and thus my SWAG isn't as valuable as it could be).<br /><br />Note: SWAG=Scientific Wild-A** Guess <br /><br />EDIT: FYI, one of the reasons NASA is reluctant to put the Hubble into an ISS plane is that there is really nothing to be gained by doing so. It won't work any better there. The only conceivable advantage is the ability to service from the ISS, which is pretty moot since there is no vehicle for getting between the two right now. (Soyuz propellant reserves have to be kept for returning to Earth.) One of the major negatives to an ISS orbit is that it passes over quite a lot of habitable terrain. The current orbit covers more ocean, which means that if things go horribly wrong and it deorbits, it's less likely to kill somebody. (Hubble is easily big enough for large pieces to reach the ground at considerable velocity.) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

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Okay, I'm running out of time to do my SWAG, as I've just received a new task at work, so I'll just put some numbers out there.<br /><br />I found somebody else's SWAG on the delta-v -- if it can be done really really well, for ion drives one might estimate 3.4 km/sec. (The ideal delta-v cannot be accomplished with ion, as the ideal delta-v can only be acheived with instantaneous acceleration. An ion drive will take a long time to do it.)<br /><br />The popular Hall Electric Thruster (not technically an ion engine, but very similar), being used more and more often for spacecraft stationkeeping and orbit insertion, has a thrust of a mere 3 Newtons (throttleable down to 80 mN). Isp is between 1600 seconds and 3500 seconds, depending on how hard the thrust is at the time. (Higher thrust = lower Isp.)<br /><br />Deep Space 1 had an exceptionally powerful ion engine, which was its primary propulsion. The spacecraft mass was 486 kg. The engine produced 0.010 kgf of thrust. Over the course of its 678 day thrusting period, it accelerated 4.3 km/sec with 74 kg of xenon.<br /><br />The Hubble Space Telescope has a mass of 10,863 kg (according to Astronautix.com; I do not know if this figure is for its original mass, or if it accounts for all of the many equipment changes that have been made, including the replacement of the solar arrays, but it should be fairly close in any case).<br /><br />I can't run the figures right now, but from this it's pretty clear that if you're going to use ion propulsion, it's going to take a heck of a long time to get the job done. Years, quite possibly. During that time, it would probably not be possible to use the Hubble at all because it would not be able to point itself. It might be possible to arrange for instrument use for half an hour or so out of every orbit (which is about a 90 minute period) but I'm skeptical that you could do much of use with only half an hour at a time. It's probably simpler to think of Hubble as basically having dow <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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igorsboss

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Pardon my lack of experience in such things, but...<br /><br />Could an Ion drive leave the spacecraft with a static charge imbalance? Could this create a static-cling effect? I'm concerned that charged particles may contaminate the telescope.<br /><br />
 
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nexium

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If the ion engine ejects a few tons of xenon nuclii and keeps the electrons, that would be a large negative charge. Perhaps it leaks electrons steadily into nearby space, so it is only a moderate negative charge? How do you measure the charge on an orbiting space craft? Neil
 
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nacnud

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If you look more closely at some of the schematics of the ion drives there is an electron beam as well to keep the space craft neutral.
 
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danwoodard

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If it's safe to go to the Moon and Mars it's difficult to see how it can be to dangerous to go to Hubble. The only hazard that is avoided by restricting the shuttle to ISS missions is the danger of TPS damage, which hopefully has been reduced considerably by the ET changes. Any shuttle launch, even to ISS, still involves significant risk. <br /><br />That said, it might actually be more cost effecive to quickly build two or three new medium-sized telescopes for ELV launch. The second spacecraft of any design costs far less than the first, and having more telescoes would get more observations done, and they could be put in a high orbit where observations (and solar power) would be unrestricted.
 
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CalliArcale

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It's only "dangerous" in the sense that if a crew reached orbit with a fatally wounded but still functioning orbiter, they'd basically have to sit with it until they died, or die on a suicide reentry. It's a risk that has been present for every single non-ISS and non-Mir flight prior to this. It's not really absent on ISS missions either; certain Orbiter failures modes could render docking impossible as well.<br /><br />Personally, my hunch is that Sean O'Keefe made that judgement based on a hidden agenda to kill the Hubble. That's not neccesarily bad; Hubble is expensive, and missions to Hubble are expensive, and may divert funds which could be spent on other things. It's not hating Hubble that bothers me. It's the possibility of people being sneaky about it. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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drwayne

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I think the "Marooned" scenario is one that scares many, maybe even those in power.<br /><br />But I have no facts to base that on Calli, so I can not argue with you.<br /><br />Wayne <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>"1) Give no quarter; 2) Take no prisoners; 3) Sink everything."  Admiral Jackie Fisher</p> </div>
 
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north_star_rising

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Ion Propulson could be used, but would be too slow, and lack overall thrust for such a mission, in any reasonable manner or time frame.
 
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north_star_rising

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Exploration has always been about risk and danger!
 
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north_star_rising

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Every space crew on the Shuttle is totally aware of these risks.<br /><br />Yet the day after the Shuttle reentry accident, there would have been plenty of people ready to go up on the very next Shuttle mission!<br /><br />Exploration is about risk, even if it is calculated risk, risk never the less!
 
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