(Copyright 2006, RDM*)
Posted: 2:00 December 5, 2006
Do you know that NASA is planning "to throw away" the Hubble Space Telescope by scuttling the spacecraft?
The answer is probably "No!" but the fact is that NASA has such a plan in mind in order to requisition another one to be called "The James Webb Space Telescope" (JWST) named after the famous NASA Director who headed the agency during the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo era in the 1960s-70s.
Yes, good ol' Hubble, "HST" for short, is about to meet its end if the NASA plan goes through. However, a group of concerned citizens and space enthusiasts, including film maker, David Gaynes, producer of the film, "Hubblelicious," are involved in a project aimed at "Saving Hubble."
At a recent meeting of the National Space Society in New York City, December 2nd, 2006, Mr. Gaynes presented his project, which includes a film to educate the public on the history and achievements of the HST. Mr. Gaynes is conducting a series of fund raising and consciousness raising events at this time to educate the public and to gain public support to save the space telescope, which is still doing it work, providing the world with never-before-seen images of deep space and the far reaches of our Solar System.
There is an "Ol' Saying," we, Americans (with common sense), often quote:
"If it ain't BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!"
That's a very wise idea, especially, in avoiding the unforeseen consequences of "Murphy's Law" (i.e., "If something can go wrong, it will go wrong!).
As we know the history of the HST involved a very expensive "fix" to repair its "unforeseen" near-sightedness early in its infancy before its career even got started.
The effort to fix Hubble was successful, in great part due to the heroic efforts of Astronaut Story Musgrave, who played "Johnny-on-the-Spot" to save the repair mission itself by figuring out how to shut a door to seal the HST, which had expanded in the heat of the Solar Wind while the Shuttle astronauts replaced components to correct Hubble's "nearsightedness."
The results have been more than "spectacular." Here are a few examples:
The Great Nebula in Orion
The Cygnus Loop
To view the video trailer of "Hubblelicious
," log on to the "Saving Hubble
" website: www.savinghubble.com
A White Dwarf Star "in a galaxy far, far away."
But now NASA has a hankerin' for new hi-tech gadgetry, untested gadgetry, to be used in the "James Webb Space Telescope." But as this government works, before you can requisition "new gadgetry" you have to get rid of "the ol' stuff" but in this case "the ol' stuff" is HST and it still works fine. The other MAJOR problem is that the new technology is so new and expensive that the JWST has now gone "way past" its budget. In fact, it is so "way out" that its approaching that "white dwarf star above "in a galaxy far, far away!"
The result is that NASA is being forced to cancel many other space projects (about 10 at last count) in order to funnel their money into JWST.
In the old days, the exceeding of a proposed budget used to be called a "cost overrun" but as was revealed at a previous meeting of the National Space Society in November by a high-ranking member of the NASA Advisory Counsel, the "cost overrun" on the JWST has reached so high a cost that NASA is embarrassed to report it to Congress as a "cost overrun" and has had to develop a new jargon (a new "weasel word" is more appropriate) to describe the excess cost.
NASA has now come up with a charming new word for this excess cost and it is…
"A Cost Underestimate."
Oh, how much sweeter and palatable that will sound to the ears of Congress and the American taxpayer!
However, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars already expended on the JWST, there is no guarantee that it will perform as specified or expected (as did not Hubble). In the meantime, the plan to scuttle Hubble continues unabated unless the American public gets behind idea of "Saving Hubble," which Mr. Gaynes, many others and I support wholeheartedly.
I do not believe it is wise to follow a plan that will leave the nation "blind" and "Lost in Deep Space" so I would propose keeping Hubble "on-line" until the JWST is launched, has proven its (cost underestimate) worthiness and becomes fully operational.
So, in regard to the Hubble Space Telescope, which already underwent a very costly "fix," which has proved its (cost overrun) worthiness, I have coined a new axiom for NASA to consider. Instead of proceeding with the plan to scuttle Hubble," I say:
"If it's FIXED, Don't BREAK IT!"
Robert D. Morningstar
Member, USNI Federation of American Scientists
American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics
(Disclaimer: The ideas expressed above are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect the opinion or position of USNI-FAS, AIAA… or NASA)
To view the video trailer of "Hubblelicious," log on to the "Saving Hubble" website: www.savinghubble.com
Below is the schedule of activities, proposed by Mr. David Gaynes, producer of the film, "Hubblelicious," in favor of "Saving Hubble" and I encourage all readers to support this effort by spreading the word and, if possible, attending some of these events or by organizing their own "Saving Hubble" support groups in their areas.
Mr. Gaynes' film, entitled "Hubblelicious" is due to be released next spring.
Hubblelicious World Tour 2006
A week's worth of events supporting the film "Saving Hubble"
Sunday, Dec. 3rd
Greetings from Mars: kick off the week and meet and greet other earthlings who love what Hubble stands for in this era of shifting priorities
7pm-9pm Mars 2112 Restaurant, 1633 Broadway at 51st St. Manhattan
Monday, Dec. 4th
Hubble South of the Border: enjoy Sangria and Tecate with organic quesadillas as we party in the blacklight back room of planets and stars
2 shows! 6pm-9pm and 9pm-12am Cosmic Cantina, 101 3rd Ave. at 13th St. Manhattan
Tuesday, Dec. 5th
Mansions and Macrocosms: watch a star show in the planetarium at the beautiful Vanderbilt estate and discuss the film in a lecture with the director
7pm-8:30pm Vanderbilt Mansion and Museum, 180 Little Neck Rd. Centerport, Long Island
Wednesday, Dec. 6th
Hubble Trouble (Wish Upon a Star): enjoy the stars under the heated rooftop bar of this hip night spot, write your wishes for the new era in space, and make pipe cleaner art as you create your own model of Hubble the way you wish to see it
7pm-11pm The Delancey, 168 Delancey St. between Clinton and Attorney, Manhattan
Thursday, Dec. 7th
Astronomy through the Lens: watch a star show and discuss how Hubble's vision and the film's vision both see a precarious future for space science and ways to help
7pm-10pm Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Planetarium, 39 Scofieldtown Rd. Stamford, CT
Saturday, Dec. 9th
Constellations at the College: watch a star show and discuss your place in the constellations as we close this week of celebrating Hubble's perspective on the universe
6pm-9pm County College of Morris Planetarium, 214 Center Grove Rd. Randolph, NJ
All events include a trailer and scenes from the film, a silent auction with space-based art including photography from the film, Hubble imagery, and space station paraphernalia, a Q&A with the director, and lively discussion and fun talking about Hubble! Many events include food and drinks.
Hubble T-shirts and Soundtrack to the Stars, a space-themed music compilation, will be for sale.
Please RSVP and mention which event(s) you will attend by Sunday, November 26th. Contact India at (718) 664-4948 or firstname.lastname@example.org
with "RSVP Hubble" in the subject heading.
Come support this important and unique film as we bring Hubble to life and to the public.
We look forward to partying with you and Hubble!