As I was driving home today I heard an interesting story on the radio. I was listening to BBC News (yes, I listen to the news on the radio) and they were discussing the Hubble space telescope. They were talking about how long it had been in orbit, the distance it was from Earth, and the amount of time that it has been since someone has stepped foot on the craft. However, that is all about to change, with an upcoming mission to the telescope.
The space craft, that was named after Edwin Hubble (clever, huh) was delivered to outer space in the month of April in the year 1990. (Look at me. I sound like a book over here or something.) And while the Hubble is not the first telescope to enter our space, it is one of the most versatile and well known space crafts of our generation. It also is one that has provided some of the most in depth imagery or any space craft we have ever seen. (On a side note, if you check out www.digg.com you will see a NASA link in the list somewhere every single day. They post a photo everyday that is titled the “NASA Image of the Day” and provides for some awesome wallpaper and conversation starters. They are usually quite high resolution and offer an awesome array of colors. Some of them will not even look like stars to you at all.)
The Hubble was actually one of the first cooperative efforts for the United States and the European Space Agency. It was actually an idea that had started many years prior to its launch in 1990. The initial plans were drawn up in the mid 1970’s. (Space shuttles and telescopes had been in our imaginations since the early 1920’s.) And when it was first sent up into space, it was realized that there was an issue with one of the main mirrors on the shuttle. It was not until 1993 that there was a mission trip to fix the mirror. Since then there have been numerous more missions to work on and study the affects of the space craft.
But on a sad note, the last mission, and the last dollar directed toward the advancement and maintenance of the shuttle is about to take place. Several years back there was a mission that caused the death of several astronauts. The craft that they were on actually disentegrated, with bodies included, when it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. (Can you imagine what that would feel like? Would you ever know what happened? I could not image being here one second and being nothing but dust in the next. Scary thought if you start to think about it. But do you think they know the risks before they even get to the point of launch? I am sure there is some financial benefits from that as well. Jobs here in the states even pay hazard pay for risk that is associated with certain jobs. I am sure they get a healthy penny, and some awesome life insurance before they ever leave the ground.)
So if they are stopping the flow of cash to the Hubble, where will it be headed? Good question to the folks at NASA. But they have an answer for you! It will be spent on the newest addition to our satellite programs. We are getting a new, larger, more advanced, and polished telescope. (Actually after the upcoming trip the space ship, it is said that the Hubble will be better than ever. It will basically be a brand new telescope with even further reach, all brand new batteries, and higher resolution cameras.)
(Did you know that when an astronaut walks on the space shift every foot step and hand print is left in the outer shell? The material that makes up the telescope is so sensitive that even the slightest touch will make a mark in the shell.)
The Hubble space craft sits 366 miles off the face of the Earth. That seems pretty far, right? Not to the folks at NASA it doesn’t. The newest telescope that will be shooting out into the darkness will be just at one million miles from the surface of earth. (Yes, that is a long way away.) Can you imagine with the technology that we have in cameras and how far we have come with simply everything since 1990 how far this new telescope will be able to see? I am excited to see the results that this new telescope brings.
All in all, I am excited to have heard this story. I used to get excited about NASA, space travel, and everything that was associated with being shot to the moon. (I still do not believe that we have been to the moon. There is too much evidence that proves that as being false. I know that Josh Corken will disagree as he watched an episode of Myth Busters that proved we have in fact been to the moon, but I have not seen that episode. I continue to go back to a documentary that I saw in high school titled Conspiracy Theory. And no, not the popular hit movie from the box office. It was an actual documentary talking about the evidence that disproved the landing.)
If you are into space travel, time travel, or travel in general, I hope you take some time to look into the last few years of the Hubble. It will be at least five years before the next telescope is launched but in NASA time that is like a week for us. It is something that we can be proud to have seen and lived in the era of.
(Does the fact that I saw Star Trek last night affect my immediate and long lost interest in space travel?)