Monday, July 25, 2005

Hubble trouble - lets worry about that later

NASAwatch has a couple of blips on Hubble, which add up to news.

First, they're not going to worry about deorbiting now, so the development cost can be deferred and it can be made Someone Else's Problem. And it sounds like Ed Weiler has come out in support of keeping Hubble functioning and upgraded.

So the 4th (#5) Servicing Mission Back On, with WFPC3 and COS in? Who know what will be the deal next month.

It will be nice, but costly, to stretch HST for a few more years. What really grates is the obscene amount of money wasted on crash development of successive decommissioning and robotic options since O'Keefe's initial turn on this.
At this point, almost independent of the outcome, I just wish someone in DC would make up their f'ing mind and stick with a plan, any plan. There comes a point where the uncertainty and changed in direction are worse than any fixed course would have been.

Oh, and good luck on the Shuttle launch, but an inexpert glance at what they actually did for the last 2+ years, strongly hints that the net improvement in STS safety has been somewhere between zero and negligible (and I just hope the change was not negative...). The probability of critical failure is still 1-2% per launch.

Of course the number of ISS flights to be done seems to shrink by about 5 per announcement of flight schedules.
What worries me is that someone on the budget side may be under the delusion that shrinking the number of STS flights to ISS will actually safe significant amounts of money in the Exploration division, as opposed to just increasing the cost per flight... Purpose of all this is apparently to free resources to build two STS derived vehicles, a Shuttle-"C"argo variant, and a Big Dumb Booster to stick the Crewed Exploration Vehicle on.
Net effect of that would seem to be to double the cost of carrying out some tasks (ie launching crew with significant mass of something along, as two flights will now be needed). Some savings on heavy lift, or crew needing maneuverability but no cargo may be achieved, if all goes well. But this is not a breakthrough path in cost saving. Better wait for the Libertarians in Space to roll something out of the garages...


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