NASA is seeking industry input on its draft requirements for the elaborate video camera system (VCS) that will be required for the Hubble Space Telescope robotic servicing and de-orbit mission (HRSDM), scheduled for launch in December 2007, writes Tim Furniss.

The camera will enable controllers to supervise the on-orbit rendezvous with Hubble and guide the two-armed servicing robot as it replaces the space telescope's gyroscopes and instruments.

The VCS contractor will have to deliver about 30 space-qualified low-resolution cameras, five high-resolution cameras and a compression/multiplexing system capable of delivering four channels of high-resolution video and stills within a bandwidth of less than 20Mb/s.

Appropriate in-orbit lighting systems will also have to be developed and provided.

The HRSDM will consist of a de-orbit module that will remain attached to the Hubble to augment power and provide propulsion for the eventual safe de-orbiting of the telescope, and an ejection module that will carry replacement parts and the two-armed dextrous robot and a robotic grapple arm, both tobe built by Canada-based MD Robotics.

The prime contractor for HRSDM is Lockheed Martin, which has received a $300 million contract.

The final go-ahead for the Hubble rescue mission is expected in August-September next year, but it is possible the proven solution of a Space Shuttle crewed servicing mission will eventually be chosen instead, although it would go against NASA's interpretation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's recommendation that the Shuttle should only fly on missions that can enable docking with the International Space Station.

Source: Flight International