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Hubble Electronic Failure Delays Refurbishment

September 30, 2008

NASA's planned Space Shuttle flight to service the Hubble Space Telescope has been delayed by the failure of an electronic component on Hubble this past Saturday (September 27).

The Hubble Space Telescope broke down this past Saturday , with the satellite unable to send instrument data down to Earth.  The source of the problem is an electronic device called the Control Unit/Science Data Formatter.  It is now unable to send scientific data to Earth.  The device has a primary section and a redundant backup section that are called respectively sides A and B.  Side B has not been activated since before the launch of Hubble, but it is expected to work properly.  According to NASA, to use the side B of the Science Data Formatter, other electronic units must also be switched to their side B sections, which is a complex task.  The switch to side B is planned to occur later this week.

NASA had planned to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis to service Hubble around October 10. The service mission would repair or replace four scientific instruments and service the spacecraft, allowing it to operate to 2014.  With the electronic failure on Hubble, NASA is contemplating replacing the Science Data Formatter.  If NASA does choose to replace it, the new unit would not be ready for launch until January of 2008.

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