Space Robotics

Sending a Robot to Do a Man's work?

Posted 4 May 2004 at 12:24 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

NASA is pondering whether or not to send a robot to fix Hubble. With the Shuttles down for human missions, a robotic mission may be the only option to save Hubble. NASA must act fast because the batteries on Hubble will fail sometime before 2008 if not replaced by then. The mission will cost a minimum of $300 million (likely much more to do any useful fixing). The mission would consist of sending a robot atop a rocket for a stop at Hubble with replacement parts like batteries, gyroscopes, and a new engine or two. The problem appears to be that today's robotics are still not as good as humans to deal with cantankerous problems like outer doors that won't close properly allowing light in where light is not supposed to be (not good for a telescope). Robots just can't seem to do what humans do, but they can be cheaper and safer. And, if robots work out for fixing Hubble, it may be a feather in the robot's hat for possible future Moon and Mars missions.

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