Hubble Space Telescope Gyroscope Failure – How Scientists Will Keep It Alive

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The Hubble space telescope is probably the most famous telescope in the world, even though technically it’s not on Earth. It’s been working since 1990 and has been serviced 5 times, upgrading with each visit. However on Friday one of 3 remaining gyroscopes failed leaving the spacecraft without enough gyros to perform normal spacecraft operations.
However there are plans for this which will squeeze more life out of the spacecraft for the near future.

  1. Elon Musk Fan

    Doesn’t one BFR variant have like a door that opens? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. Max K.

    Could Hubble be serviced by the x-37b?

  3. Nuno

    probably had to wait for assistance with BFR

  4. Daniel Wilson

    Alas, running out of gyros again. ‘Sounds like we need us some Webby Jim! (Can one legally start a kickstarter or go-fund-em for a specific project within a government agency?)

  5. welkin

    Get more Tzatziki sauce on those scopes for lubrication…problem solved

  6. Nugget

    I like when you talk about topics like this but i want more KSP.

  7. Valendr0s

    I’m pretty sure that the orbit height of the ISS and Hubble is also wildly different. I think you just suggested a pretty big course correction for an entire space station.

  8. Robert Blair

    The hubble was sabotaged by space-X so they can unveil some new spacecraft capable of servicing the Hubble.

  9. Ryben Flynn

    NASA should have kept one Space Shuttle in operational condition instead of decommissioning them all.
    Now we may have to rely on SpaceX to do any HST servicing if they can manage to send Astronauts into orbit.

  10. asumazilla

    Do they switch off power to the gyroscopes or spin them at a slower speed when not being used?

  11. TheFaceless Men

    Windows is updating, Do not switch off your telescope.

  12. antsolja

    i want to see space x do a mission to return hubble to earth to be put in a museum so they can launch a new and improved hubble 2

  13. Wojciech Batog

    It would be great to see a more in depth video about the attitude systems of the Hubble and how they use them- ‘How Apollo flew to the moon’ style :)

  14. Quinn Von Kerman

    Send a Dragon 2 up to fix it. They should eventually have a BFR bring it back to earth so they can put it in a museum.

  15. fraginz

    How about 6th hubble maintenance mission using the (hopefully) upcoming BFR?

  16. ThirteenthAndy

    Time for NASA to contribute some bucks to BFR development. BFS is the only upcoming vehicle that is designed in a way that might allow a service mission.

  17. aGhOsToFtHeFoRmEr

    I did not hear any mention of the three back ups the NRO gave them.

  18. Eric Haynes

    I’m almost certain they won’t try to fix Hubble but it would be the right thing to bring it back via BFS. I believe there is a full mock-up at the Smithsonian, which is very cool as well.

  19. Jacob Hallberg

    Isn’t the James Webb Telescope supposed to replace Hubble? The launch of that is due in like the next couple years right?

  20. Chibi Nyra

    That would be cool! I can imagine the photos of Hubble and ISS in the same frame =o)

  21. Miroslav Milan

    Oh, no! No more videos trom Scott until 2020?

  22. Peter Daley

    Would love to see you change its inclination in realism overhaul; maybe using a falcon heavy replica?

  23. Dylan Watts

    I predict plans for Hubble 2 in general though

  24. wooo weee

    Clearly we need a drone with arms to go along with that navy microshuttle.

  25. thydusk666

    How much delta-V is required to bring the Hubble to ISS?

  26. NeverTalkToCops1

    Scott, where’s your documentary on PU239 production at the “Queen Mary” facilities at the Hanford nuclear reservation. Chop chop!

  27. sferrin2

    Sounds like a mission for BFR. :-)

  28. wigm

    Send a robotic mission to attach to the telescope with say 9 gyroscopes to do the steering for Hubble.

  29. Rick Denton

    years ago, I read a story about another Hubble type space telescope, it had been built by the CIA, it was given to NASA, last I heard, it was being repurposed by NASA, any news about that ?.

  30. David Messer

    I would think that it would be possible to go up there with a Dragon II capsule. The question is whether it has EVA capability or the ability to grapple with Hubble. I haven’t heard that Dragon II has the ability to depressurize on-orbit.
    It might be time to launch another visual-light telescope to replace Hubble. The James Webb telescope is optimized for infra-red so it can’t quite do the same thing as Hubble. It should be possible to make another design that is based on the James Webb to cover the whole visible spectrum I would think.
    The problem, as usual, is funding.

  31. Skemooo

    thank you for this breakdown sir.

  32. Sequoia Hughes

    The James Webb Telescope will NOT replace Hubble—it has a different mission, capturing light outside the visible spectrum, unlike Hubble which mostly captures light in the visible spectrum. We already have other non-visible light telescopes in orbit and nobody considers them Hubble replacements.
    There are no plans to replace Hubble, AFAIK

  33. Anarchy Antz

    As long as we dont send up George Clooney and Sandra Bullock it should continue to stay in one piece :D

  34. HuntingTarg

    For everyone talking about the fate of the HST and the ‘not an exact replacement’ quality of the proposed James Webb telecope, lemme pitch an idea:
    Design, build, and insert a near-exact replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope –
    And call it the Hawking Orbital Observatory.
    (not the Hawking Space Telescope, that would confuse lots of interweb crawlers in the coming decades).

  35. CartoonrBOY

    Great idea Scott. I’ll start building one now (in KSP oc).

  36. Rinoa Super-Genius

    The Hubble telescope should be considered a protected historic object similar to a historic building.

  37. Brandon Hubbard

    Awesome Video yet again! I went to a seminar on how Engineers designed the KH-9 Hexagon, the fine guidance system was developed for that satellite that the Hubble adopted. Awesome how it works

  38. ffggddss

    Gee willikers, Scott, ya missed yer chance to end this time with, “Until then . . I’m Scott Manley . . fly with all your gyros working.”

  39. Jeff Liggett

    Could a Dragon capsule with gyro replacements in the trunk fix it?

  40. Katniss

    1:50 Just wondering, are RCS thrusters even precise enough to keep it pointed at the object it’s supposed to be pointed at?

  41. Kenneth Scharf

    The Falcon Heavy could probably get to orbit using ONLY the three first stage core boosters (in non-recovery mode) leaving enough fuel in the upper stage (or an extended upper stage) to do the job of boosting the HSC to the orbit of the ISS.

  42. Jason Habeck

    Scott. Write to Musk and have BFRs first mission to capture and RETURN Hubble to Earth. Hell, start a go fund me for it :P it’ll work.

  43. JS 2K

    Putting the HST into the same orbit as the ISS sounds like a great KSP episode!

  44. Noah Hastings

    SpaceX: Hold my beer

  45. O RP

    Couldn’t… a falcon heavy fix that inclination…

  46. Matthew McKellar

    I sense a perfect trial run mission for the BFR!

  47. ThreePounds

    Hubble and ISS on the same orbit? The authors of the movie Gravity went for the long con!

  48. Micai Askauss

    Could they perform a repair mission on a Dragon 2?

  49. MonkeyspankO

    This is probably an out-there suggestion, but what about capturing it and docking it with the ISS? Some existing space craft could handle it.

  50. smugman

    Just shine really powerful lasers onto the Hubble. That should keep it in line.

  51. HuntingTarg

    It’s very poignant to me to see the Hubble pass into its twilight years. I remember three decades ago getting excited with my grandfather (since departed into glory) about the launch, and all the drama of the mirror problem and the contingency options, the extraordinary images of the planets, and the instrument replacement – …
    [memories… cue _Bittersweet Symphony_ ]

  52. The Rogue Wolf

    When the HST was found to have a problem with its mirror, I made jokes that NASA should contract Michael Jordan to just jump up and fix it.
    That feels like forever ago.

  53. AvyScottandFlower

    NASA, you know what to do..
    (yeah, I know, I know…)

  54. Glenn Reid

    Would it be possible to remotely clamp a new gyroscopic system to the HST?

  55. etbadaboum

    Hubble was launched in 1990… USSR was going to collapsed and the US still launched astronauts in space…

  56. Nick Diamond

    Wow. Using ISS to service Hubble. Imagine seeing the HST docked to space station. 😮😳.

  57. Kvyn Gmbyr

    Bio-mechanical Gyro sandwich stabilization device could be installated in future Hubbles?

  58. newsgetsold

    Fly safe Hubble.

  59. uruiamnot

    In case you missed it… the North Pole’s location is shown at 7:12
    Oh, and it’s 20-odd degree difference in inclination.

  60. planetrob555

    Thank you so much for doing these videos. I appreciate them, learn from them and enjoy them…

  61. Jerry Long

    Hi Scott,
    If we could dock Hubble to the ISS, why not attach it permanently?
    What sort of issues would you have with tracking objects, like torque reactions between the 2 craft and so on.
    I would love to hear your thoughts.

  62. meesalikeu

    thank you for explaining this so well — im less worried about it now.

  63. therealpbristow

    Hubble, hubble, gyro trouble;
    Wobbly moves and vision double!
    Lay off the witches’ brew, hubble, you’ve got work to do! =;o}

  64. Luke Bowering

    ISS with Hubble attached would be like MOL, but looking up instead of down.

  65. TheMattman1313

    Well this is coincidental! I’m in Systems Engineering class now and we have a project to design a Pre-Phase A James Webb repair mission (robotic, etc). A Hubble repair of this type can probably use a few very similar components/mission design features.

  66. Peter Carlson

    The hubble space telescope:
    The most precisely ground lens ground within a few atoms to an incorrect shape ever made.

  67. jcoronet2000

    question about de-orbiting: Hubble has a 2 meter disk of pyrex, wouldn’t that make it to the ground?

  68. Zreknarf

    “magnetic sensors that determine orientation relative to the earth’s magnetic field” well, that’s a fancy word for compass :)

  69. Doug Philbrick

    My Dad worked for AirReseach and helped develop the iris style air bearing in the Hubble Gyros. An inert gas was used to spin the gyros and the shaft rode on this layer of gas. This way they could achieve speeds in excess of 200K RPM.

  70. Addison Martin

    Hey Scott Manley, SpaceX should send a crew of astronauts to repair and upgrade Hubble once Crew Dragon is operational.
    My questions about how it could be done?
    1. Could a Falcon 9 launch the Hubble telescope as it was originally built into space? What is Hubble’s weight, size, and orbit, compared to Falcon 9’s maximum launchable capabilities?
    2. With the Crew Dragon, could Falcon 9 launch NASA astronauts and enough supplies to service it? What if they were launched from the ISS instead of the ground?

  71. Alan O

    It has run its course…THANK YOU HST
    They knew this day would come

  72. Karl Brundage

    It’s always baffled me why, when NASA, ESA or any other organization orders a vehicle like Hubble they don’t order more than one. Granted, the vehicle/platform costs are eye-watering, but only because it’s one-off hardware. NASA could have ordered ten Hubbles for half-again as much money, as the manufacturer would have been engaged in serial production, with the R&D costs spread across the production run.
    Then, as one platform in service is reaching failure point, another could be launched to take its place. Additionally, advances in technology could be retrofitted to the units still on the ground, making the orbital service missions redundant.

  73. Péter Szabados

    Hold on Hubble! And fly safe!

  74. Justin Chan

    before we fix it, let’s “simulate” it on KSP

  75. James S.

    I find it hard to imagine with our unimaginable technology we can’t somehow fix this thing. Could easily be done with a self contained “gyro unit” that could self-attach itself to the outside of the scope and take over the gyro control and stabilize it. It could essentially glue itself in place, robotically. No special brackets needed.
    Could even have some small rockets in place to give it an orbital boost. Special brackets on outer part of the GU could even accommodate another GU when that one fails.
    Might be redundant since the JWST is gonna be launched relatively soon, but it’s not there yet. The HST is already a proven technology.

  76. BlueFrostedGlass

    Famous Telescope? Palomar :-D

  77. Jerry Oswald

    I remember one of the first repair missions was to add a device to compensate for the fact that the mirror was incorrectly ground to shape during manufacture. The company was a subsidiary of General Motors in the USA. The joke was why would you trust a company that has warnings on all it’s car side mirrors that state “Objects may be closer than they appear”.

  78. Cortex

    Uh-oh, Hubble’s in trouble, some gyros have come along and burst its bubble.

  79. Ferarn McÆternitum

    Imagine saving Hubble completely and joining it to the ISS, lol

  80. Sion

    *@Scott Manley*
    Do you know if the gyroscopes “absolutely necessary”?
    Or can Hubble use the other sensors to track the rotation so it can even work without any gyroscopes at all?

  81. American Patriot 1776

    The Hubble has been a GREAT instrument for discovery. 8th wonder of the world. We have gained more knowledge about our universe then thought possible. Thank you to all who designed the Hubble Telescope. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  82. Theophrastus Bombastus

    So Opportunity has some gyros in its Inertial Measurement Unit while Hubble has six nickel hydrogen batteries. Call NASA, we need all their struts and boosters.
    Do not lose hope little rover.

  83. Janice Rael

    Thank you for this report, I love Hubble!

  84. Elinzar

    30 years of pure Science in space
    we have to congratulate the engineers who made this amazing piece of tech

  85. Socks With Sandals

    We should launch Hubble II on BFR with an eight metre mirror, similar off the shelf tech and multiple redundant reaction wheels for the win.

  86. Random Guy

    I looked at the title and thought “Reaction Wheel Broke?!”. No it’s just Gyroscope, it’s fine.

  87. Elopeous

    Now replicate this manuver in ksp

  88. biela88

    I think one more service mission should be sent to Hubble considering that the JWST will not be ready before 2020.
    I made a bet with a friend of mine (5 crates of beer) that I will finish university before the latter launches. :D

  89. Michael Pennington

    When we were building the ground software for Hubble, the idea was that the mission would only last 15 years. Double that is nothing to be too upset about. Perhaps the cargo version of BFS could rescue it and bring it home.

  90. 221 b

    I saw that Christmas 1999 launch of Discovery as a kid. The evening before planning to visit NASA we were driving to our hotel close by when some guys stopped our car and pointed out a giant fireball in the sky. Right after the sound hit. It was awesome.

  91. Chris Musix

    Poor Hubble, it burst your bubble. But don’t let your enthusiasm ebb for James Webb!

  92. cyberpunkdreams

    I guess instead of trying to replace the gyros (and other parts) a robotic mission could dock itself permanently to HST, carrying the necessary replacements on board — kind of like an extension to its structure. I’m sure that’s far easier said than done, but it might be possible.

  93. zapfanzapfan

    Fixing Hubble again would be a worthy mission for commercial crew!

  94. Heads Tails

    What is the oldest functional space craft in orbit?

  95. OtakuMage

    I’m one of those people that wants Hubble to be brought home and put in the Smithsonian.

  96. Kumquat Lord

    Should be an easy enough fix, send up a shuttle servicing mission!
    Oh wait, we cancelled the shuttle program :/

  97. Cody'sLab

    When it does finally die I hope they preserve it somehow rather than cremate it in the atmosphere. Though if they do go that route any chance of viewing the re-entry? Like even if we have to rent a boat…

  98. Eto Hige Gamer Culture

    James Web space tele need to get the heck up in space already

  99. Andreas Spachmüller

    flying a booster up to change the orbit and meet it up with the space station sounds very much like Kerbal Space Programm.

  100. Tim Frey

    Don’t worry. The James Webb telescope will take over after it’s launch in 2056!

Comments are closed.