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PfcHammer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 09:15 AM
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Space Tug Could Save Hubble
Space Tug Could Save Hubble

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,63475,00.ht...

02:00 AM May. 15, 2004 PT

A new line of robotic spacecraft designed to tug wayward communications satellites back into their proper orbits could extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope, according to the CTO of British aerospace firm Orbital Recovery.

Set to launch in 2007, Orbital Recovery's first ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle, or CX OLEV, will be equipped with a pole that can attach to a nozzle found on the motors of many commercial satellites. Once attached, the CX OLEV can use its engines to raise or lower a satellite to an operable orbit. The two spacecraft can then remain connected as needed for up to 10 years.

Though a representative for Orbital Recovery says the space tug program is targeted at the 50 or so communications satellites that are currently circulating the Earth at the wrong orbit -- a problem caused by launch failures, engine problems or lack of fuel -- the company's CTO, Dennis Wingo, has more dramatic goals in mind. He'd like to see CX OLEV technology used in a Hubble servicing mission.

Wingo, who is also the CEO of the remote launch firm SkyCorp, is proposing that a modified version of the space tug be assembled at -- and launched from -- the International Space Station. "This would accomplish all of the goals of Hubble servicing mission while retaining (NASA administrator Sean) O'Keefe's requirement to use ISS as a safe haven," wrote Wingo in a recent letter to SpaceRef.com. "This would also not cost a dedicated Shuttle mission and hence would save an amount of money that is larger than the cost of our system that such a dedicated flight would entail."

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htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 09:42 AM
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1. A robotic Space Tug seems like such a good idea...
...why didn't they think of it before? (granted, I didn't think of it before, either).

It seems like an obviously cheaper solution to many things the shuttle used to do. Don't see why they couldn't attach a set of robotic arms (with tools) they could control from the ground for repair missions, also.

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