Skip to comments.Ex-Spy Telescope May Get New Identity as a Space Investigator
Posted on 06/05/2012 11:17:30 AM PDT by LibWhacker
The phone call came like a bolt out of the blue, so to speak, in January 2011. On the other end of the line was someone from the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nations fleet of spy satellites. They had some spare, unused hardware to get rid of. Was NASA interested?
So when John Grunsfeld, the physicist and former astronaut, walked into his office a year later to start his new job as NASAs associate administrator for space science, he discovered that his potential armada was a bit bigger than he knew.
In a room in upstate New York were two telescopes the same size as the famed Hubble Space Telescope, but built to point down at the Earth, instead of up at the heavens.
NASA, struggling to get human space exploration moving again, had spent the previous year trying to figure out how good these telescopes were and what, if anything, they could be used for. Working with a small band of astronomers for the past couple of months, Dr. Grunsfeld, famous as the Hubble telescopes in-orbit repairman, has now come up with a plan, which was presented to the public on Monday at a meeting at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.
It is to turn one of the telescopes loose on the cosmos, pointing in its rightful direction, outward, to investigate the mysterious dark energy that is speeding up the universes expansion.
If the plan succeeds and Congress, the Office of Management and Budget and the Academy of Sciences have yet to sign on it could shave hundreds of millions of dollars and several years off a quest that many scientists say is the most fundamental of our time and that NASA had said it could not undertake until 2024 at the earliest.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
The Shuttle could not handle a telescope larger than the Hubble, nor any telescope larger than these two. So how could we have an optical reconnaissance satellite up there that was much better? Yes, we have a heavy lift capability and maybe we've done something with that to replace these two, but why bring them back and give them away? N+2 reconnaissance satellites is better than N reconnaissance satellites.
What new treachery has that muslim commie in the White House committed?
These telescopes might be spares that became obsolete. To get funding, all we have to do is whack a few social programs. That’s Hope & Change we can live with. All we need then is a rocket.
No treachery in this case. They simply built more telescopes than were needed, some years ago, I suspect. That is always done in the recon business. Build extra, in case something breaks sooner than planned.
I imagine they have better hardware for NRO to use, now, two years later.
The telescopes, as telescopes are probably better than Hubble, but without the variety of gear that went with the Hubble installation.
And, yes, we do have a variety of heavy lift vehicles. They cannot entirely replace the shuttle yet, but close.