Could the shuttle land with Hubble?

  • Thread starter squidsoft
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  • #1
I'm thinking Smithsonian Institute or would landing be a problem or is it just a question of money? Would make a nice engineering problem: How to modify the shuttle so that it could land safely with Hubble.

Any suggestions?
  • #2
Just off the top I am thinking it would not be a large engineering problem.

I only fly small planes so it is far out of my area.

However, considering the length of runway the shuttle can utilize. I am thinking a slightly higher landing speed would suffice in bringing the Hubble back.

I think the main concern here is with safety issues and $X expenditure in attempting to bring it back.

It would be an expensive venture.

However, when one thinks of installing a connecting platform on the Hubble, sending a rocket to connect, then deorbiting, I sort of think that also comes with a hefty price tag also.
  • #3
How to modify the shuttle so that it could land safely with Hubble.

Any suggestions?

  1. Rebuild the Shuttle from the ground-up. The current design simply cannot tolerate the *huge* change in the mass, the location of the center of mass, and the inertia tensor that carrying such a huge payload back to Earth would entail.
  2. Make sure the redesigned vehicle is completely automated, because you dang sure don't want people onboard when the vehicle goes out of control during reentry.
  3. Make the automated system capable of completely gutting the Hubble's propulsion system. You don't want any hydrazine in the payload bay during reentry.
  4. Make the automated system capable of measuring the mass properties (mass, center of mass, and inertia tensor) after affixing the Hubble to the vehicle because knowing those mass properties are critical to being able to control the vehicle.
  5. Make sure no boats are in the Pacific anywhere near the trajectory of the incoming bomb.
  6. Build a new landing site, preferably right off the coast of the Pacific, and preferably far from any population center. Landing at the Cape would entail flying an automated bomb over the breadth of the US. Edwards is far too close to Los Angeles.
  • #4
Yes, it is entirely an issue of landing payload/weight. The shuttle has brought back satellites before and can land with payload in the cargo bay (such as the spacelab module), but I suspect the Hubble is too heavy. I'm googling for the max landing payload, but can't find anything quite yet...
  • #5
Ok, just a follow-up with my drive to preserve the Hubble:

The telescope is just too heavy to bring back down with the current design of the shuttle; if we had to do it that way, we'd have to design, build, and test an entirely new type of vehicle to get it down that way.

How about this:

Could we ferry up enough material to build a suitable heat-shielded pay-load container the astronauts could assemble (in orbit) to house the telescope and then just drop it back down with a parachute landing? Surely that's seems feasible and cost-effective without jeopardizing any carry-on passengers. Oh yea, water-tight of course for a water landing.
  • #6
From what I can find, it should easily be able to land with Hubble aboard. The Shuttle has a maximum landing weight of about 230,000 pounds, and an empty weight of 151,000 pounds. Hubble only weighs 25,000 pounds, making it easily within the capability of the shuttle.

Of course, to retrieve it would require a shuttle flight well after the shuttle's retirement, and it would be phenomenally expensive.
  • #8
Ok, I see what you mean. Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article:

"NASA's original plan for safely de-orbiting Hubble was to retrieve it using a space shuttle. The Hubble telescope would then have most likely been displayed in the Smithsonian Institution. This is no longer considered practical because of the costs of a shuttle flight . . ."

. . . it's been less than 100 years . . . less than a blink of an eye when we though all that was was all we could see in our immediate neighborhood, including one strange, diffuse, object we call Andromeda. I have a picture of Hubble, peering through Hooker, pipe in mouth. It's de ja vous all over again isn't it. From the time of the Egyptians, Orion, Ptolemy, the others. Always, always she beckons with mystery and deception: Galileo, Venus, Tycho Brahe, now Sloan. Use to be Palomar was the jewel of Astronomy. I should like one day to make a pilgrimage there, to walk not drive up the mountain. Is is far? She is of my time; and of Hubble, your time . . .
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  • #9
neat idea increased landing speed. keeps lift up. still nice and easy.
  • #10
Increasing landing speed is hard though when the landing speed of the shuttle is already well over 200mph.

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