phi (totient) wrote,

deorbit the hubble

Over the years, I've heard a lot of proposals for what to do with the Hubble as it reaches the end of its design lifetime (which is pretty much now). The latest plan involves an unmanned upgrade mission for $2B. To put this number in perspective, the original cost of the Hubble was $1.5B, and the Next Generation Space Telescope is being projected as costing $1B. Sure, that number would grow if we built it, but so would the cost of the upgrade mission.

One might argue that the whole problem is that we're not willing to fly a shuttle mission, and that it'd be a no-brainer if we were. I'm not sure about that either. One of the parameters of the NGST is for it to fly on an Atlas; if we had a shuttle flight available we'd probably do better to fly a copy of Hubble than to fix the one that's up there. It will be a shame to lose Hubble, but it would be more of one to lose its replacement.
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