Saving Hubble - My Favorite Space Mission!


  1. Saving Hubble - My favorite space mission!
  2. Moon landing 2024 - it's all Greek to me

This week in space history

Okay so obviously Apollo 11 is the greatest mission of all time, but that doesn't count! My favorite space mission is one you've probably never heard of: STS-125 by Space Shuttle Atlantis from May 11-24, 2009. STS-125 was the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission; for background, Hubble is the only space telescope designed to be periodically serviced by astronauts in orbit. The 7 member astronaut crew installed two new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Wide Field Camera 3, allowing Hubble to see further away and deeper into the past than ever before. They also replaced gyroscopes, batteries, and thermal insulation that have allowed Hubble to remain operational to this day

Mission Specialists Andrew Feustel and John Grunsfeld spacewalking with Hubble, which has been captured by Atlantis' robotic arm 

So why is this mission so special to me? Although Hubble was in need of critical maintenance, after the Columbia disaster in 2003, then-NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe cancelled all future servicing missions, citing excessive risk. His decision was met with immediate backlash from Congress, with many senators going on the record in support of Hubble. More importantly, Hubble holds such a special place in science that even the general public rallied to save the orbital observatory - thousands of perplexed/angry emails and petitions from space enthusiasts around the world quickly bombarded the relevant scientific institutions and government agencies. Their support was crucial to reinstating the Hubble-saving mission; without it, Hubble would be long dead today.

"I think it's just amazing [Hubble's scientific data]... this is why I will continue to stand up for Hubble" - Barbara Mikulski, D-MD 

Not only did Congress and the general public align so staunchly, for once they did it not for economic or political gain, but for the sake of scientific advancement and human understanding! How rarely do we see moments like that? Too often we're embroiled in political discord, and I always hear people complaining how NASA is a waste of money that should be better spent elsewhere. It's nice to know that people still care

How much would you pay...for the Universe? 

The beautiful and terrible thing about our American democracy is that it bends to the will of the people, meaning that government prioritizes what we collectively deem important. If the general population believes the Earth is flat and the Moon landings were faked, then NASA will never have the funding to get anywhere. But if we collectively decide that it's a worthwhile endeavor to reach for the stars, then we have the power to make it so

Current events

Earlier this May, NASA accelerated its plan to return humans to the Moon to 2024 (the original plan was the late-2020s). With Monday's announcement by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, we finally have a name for the new program - Artemis! In Greek mythology, Apollo and Artemis were twins, and Artemis was the goddess of the Moon. What a fitting name for the program that will put the first woman (and next man) on the lunar surface!

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

With the support of President Trump, Bridenstine has requested an additional $1.6bn from Congress for the Artemis Program to make sure that new hardware being developed like the SLS rocket and Orion capsule remain on track. Unfortunately, the politics of space is like the politics of anything else - messy and complicated (read more here). NASA has already suffered a lot of delays, and let's not forget about President Bush's Constellation Program, which was supposed to return us to the Moon in 2020 until President Obama cancelled it in 2009. But I'm cautiously optimistic. Let's get it done!!


  1. So sad! Space is pretty expensive though so it's hard to win the public support. Hopefully Hubble stays alive

    1. Hubble's successor should launch in 2021, assuming no more delays and cost overruns. It's called the James Webb Space Telescope