The failure of a science command and data-handling (C&DH) system on the Hubble space telescope over the weekend has forced NASA program managers to reconsider the 14 October launch of the final servicing mission for the orbiting observatory.
Flightglobal.com has learned that one side of the redundant C&DH system that scientists use to command and receive data from the telescope’s instruments failed over the weekend, possibly due to long-term exposure to high radiation levels.
A second shuttle is poised for the 14 October launch if a rescue is needed
Currently there is no data coming from the one operational instrument on Hubble, the wide field planetary camera, though engineers are devising a recovery plan to restart the system with backup electronics.
However officials fear that the backup hardware, critical to operation of the new instruments, could also fail given its exposure to the same radiation levels.
The agency is now mulling whether to delay the servicing mission until February or beyond so that astronauts can replace the C&DH hardware along with the various other upgrades and fixes already planned.