Hubble Trouble? NASA Says Space Telescope's Computer "Halted" 

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Jun 21, 2021 - 09:20 PM

The Hubble Space Telescope remains offline as efforts by NASA to bring its payload computer back online have failed. 

NASA revealed the 31-year old space telescope had its payload computer "halted" on June 13 at 1600 ET. It's been more than a week since the low Earth orbit telescope, orbiting at an altitude of 340 miles, has been offline, even though NASA personnel have tried on multiple attempts to restart the computer.  

"Initial indications pointed to a degrading computer memory module as the source of the computer halt. When the operations team attempted to switch to a backup memory module, however, the command to initiate the backup module failed to complete. Another attempt was conducted on both modules Thursday evening to obtain more diagnostic information while again trying to bring those memory modules online. However, those attempts were not successful," NASA said. 

The payload computer is intended to send a "keep-alive" signal to the main computer on the satellite, but that isn't happening, causing the automatic safety system to place all sensors into safe mode configuration. The Hubble will remain in safe mode until NASA fixes the payload computer. 

There have been other recent malfunctions of the aging space telescope. Earlier this year, bad code resulted in the satellite entering safe mode. 

The last in-flight fix occurred during 2009's STS 125 service mission when Space Shuttle Atlantis ferried parts to upgrade the satellite. 

If NASA cannot restart the Hubble, it may be doomed.

A SpaceX mission would be unlikely to carry astronauts to service the space telescope mainly because the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope will be launched in November 2021. 

The Hubble trouble also follows the Russians set to pull out of the International Space Station in 2025 as the end of lifespan for the space station is 2030. 

America's space assets are aging. Meanwhile, China has launched a space station of its own.