Subj: Hubble Space Telescope failure halts science work
Date: 11/15/99 7:50:24 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (New Millennium)

11/15/1999 10:21:00 ET

Hubble Space Telescope failure halts science work

CAPE CANAVERAL (Reuters) - NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suffered a
system failure over the weekend that will leave it unable to transmit
any pictures to Earth until the next, much-delayed, space shuttle
mission, the space agency said on Monday.

The failure of one of the telescope's three remaining gyroscope-pointing
systems put the Hubble into a "safe mode," making further scientific
observations impossible, NASA spokeswoman Nancy Neal said. The pointing
systems aim the multibillion-dollar observatory at its celestial
Astronomers, fearing just such a problem with the ailing pointing system
earlier this year, ordered an emergency service call by the shuttle to
make repairs.

"It's not unexpected at all," agency spokesman Don Savage said. "We said
a gyro could go at any time and it did."

Spacewalking astronauts were to have visited the orbiting observatory in
mid-October, but technical problems with the shuttle fleet have
repeatedly delayed the mission.

Shuttle Discovery was moved to its seaside launch pad this weekend to
prepare for the 10-day repair mission, now tentatively scheduled to
begin on Dec. 6.

When launched in 1990, Hubble was equipped with six gyroscopes. All but
two have failed. In addition to replacing the failed gyroscope,
Discovery's crew will upgrade various systems and patch up damaged
sections of the telescope's outer skin.

When Hubble was launched, it was valued at about $2 billion. NASA has
spent more than $1 billion more upgrading and repairing it.

When the telescope was launched, its vision was blurred by misshapen
optics, drawing fierce criticism and making Hubble the butt of
late-night talk show jokes.

Astronauts repaired the observatory in 1993. Since then, the Hubble
Space Telescope has returned spectacular images of the cosmos and made
numerous scientific breakthroughs, including the confirmation of black
holes at the centre of many galaxies.

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