Hubble: June 2012 Archives

NRO Gifts NASA Two Leftover Space Telescopes, SpacePolicyOnline

"The CAA's response to the newswas rather muted. The reaction was surprisingly flat for a community that received a fairly valuable gift. At a media teleconference later in the day, NASA's Michael Moore, deputy astrophysics division director,estimated thatabout $250 million in mission costs could be avoided by using one ofthe NRO telescopes. He added that the telescopes cost about $75,000-$100,000 to storeat the manfacturer's (ITT Excelis) facilities in Rochester, NY. In response to a question atthe media teleconference, Hertz said he thought CAA members were "excited at the possibilities," while Dressler acknowledged that some people "need to have a lot more time" to consider the situation. This is a "sharp right turn," he added, compared to what was recommended in NWNH."

'Free' spy telescopes come to NASA with a cost, Nature

"But on Tuesday, NASA was still keeping relatively quiet about the apparent windfall. "We're not pushing this information like we normally do," said Michael Moore, NASA's acting deputy director for astrophysics."

Keith's note: OK. So the status quo seems to be grumpy, cautious, etc. about another means to accomplish THEIR expensive long term astronomy plan without any sudden "right turns". Are there not other uses that this hardware could be put to - ones that have minimal involvement with these stuffy folks who are all set in their high-cost way of doing business? Every time I have tried to engage NASA's representatives about out-of-the-box thinking about alternate ways to use these telescopes from NRO they quickly retreat into their shells saying "its too early to discuss this". Well gee, they have had a chance to talk about this among themselves for a year and a half! If this behavior persists I am afraid that NASA will simply be spending the equivalent of someone's college education every year storing the stuff in Rochester, New York. Remember Triana aka 'Goresat'? Where is it now?

Its interesting how NASA's human exploration programs all seek a "flexible path" as they structure their programs and missions, yet NASA's space science programs seem to lack that capability - or any interest in emulating it.

Spy agency gives NASA two spare Hubbles, Washington Post

"I'm told by a government engineer with knowledge of the new instruments that they're "a successful part of an otherwise failed program on the NRO side."

NASA has a mission for grounded spy telescopes, SpaceflightNow

"But the 94-inch aperture on the NRO optical system will permit Hubble-class resolution over a wide field-of-view - imaging a swath of the sky 100 times larger than Hubble can see in a single exposure."

U.S. Launches Costly Overhaul of Spy Satellites, LA Times (1995)

"It's like looking at the world through a soda straw," said one defense industry consultant of the existing spy satellites. The 8X program would redress that shortcoming by covering roughly 800 to 1,000 square miles in each photograph, with roughly the same resolution as the existing satellites..."

In Death of Spy Satellite Program, Lofty Plans and Unrealistic Bids, NY Times (2007)

"The panel reported that the project, called Future Imagery Architecture, was far behind schedule and would most likely cost $2 billion to $3 billion more than planned, according to records from the satellite agency, the National Reconnaissance Office. ... It took two more years, several more review panels and billions more dollars before the government finally killed the project -- perhaps the most spectacular and expensive failure in the 50-year history of American spy satellite projects. The story behind that failure has remained largely hidden, like much of the workings of the nation's intelligence establishment. ... The team also wanted an optical system that could take wide-angle images, showing large areas on the ground, as well as tightly focused, detailed pictures of small objects. The goal, to use an oversimplified analogy, was a revolutionary zoom lens. "

8 June Update

Donated Space Telescopes are Remnants of Failed NRO Program, Space News

"Among Boeing's subcontractors on the canceled program was a division of Eastman Kodak of Rochester, which for years had built the mirror assemblies for the nation's spy satellites. That division was sold to ITT Exelis in 2004. In an email, ITT Exelis spokeswoman Irene Lockwood confirmed that her company built the hardware. "Since developing and building the two partial telescope assemblies in the late 1990s-early 2000s, ITT Exelis has stored the hardware in one of our Rochester facilities. As the future space missions for the telescopes evolve, ITT Exelis will work with NASA to determine how best they can be used."

NASA's Stubby Hubbles and Fumbled PR

"Moore said that the hardware had been "declassified" so that NASA could use it. So, I asked, since it was "declassified", what the names of these telescopes were and if we could have photos of the hardware. Moore declined to provide the names of the telescopes - or of anything NRO was providing, said that we could not have photos (because things were classified), and that we should go talk to the NRO's public relations office. For starters, telling someone to talk to the NRO public affairs office is like suggesting that I find the nearest brick wall to talk to. What had me a bit baffled was why NASA could not provide photos of declassified hardware - suggesting that it was not really declassified at all. So which is it - declassified or not?"

Keith's note: But wait. This image was posted on MSNBC captioned "A redacted photo shows one of the telescopes transferred from the National Reconnaissance Office to NASA." and the source is "A. Dressler via National Academies". NASA refuses to issue images to the media but they give the same imagery to the NAS and they release it to the media? But NASA can't?

Keith's update: J.D. Harrington at NASA PAO tells me "I'm told that this is an old picture of the Hubble Space Telescope in its ground handling fixture being moved in the clean room during integrated testing and is not related toany classified hardware. It was included by the author of the CAA presentation yesterday to provide some levity to his somewhat dry science discussion." Dressler was on the media telecon yesterday when NASA refused to provide photos. So.... a senior representative of the National Academies of Science (Dressler) is issuing photos that they either claim are authentic and/or know are not authentic - and do so after hearing that NASA cannot/will not release them.

NASA is holding a semi-stealth media telecon - but only for selected media - and I got 13 minutes advanced notice. Alas, NASA claims that they are not holding "media telecons" about the NRO telescopes and they tell this to media during a "media telecon". Goofy.

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy, Washington Post

"The U.S. government's secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope. Designed for surveillance, the telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office were no longer needed for spy missions and can now be used to study the heavens. They have 2.4-meter (7.9 feet) mirrors, just like the Hubble. They also have an additional feature that the civilian space telescopes lack: A maneuverable secondary mirror that makes it possible to obtain more focused images. These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble, according to David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-chair of the National Academies advisory panel on astronomy and astrophysics."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Hubble category from June 2012.

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