January 20, 2004

Space Junkman

The junk man makes his money by paying pennies for what some people consider junk and selling it (still cheaply compared to new) for far more than he paid. It's an honest way to make a living, if a bit prosaic. Now the industry's going orbital. An early high profile mission might just be Hubble Space Telescope Salvage.

The idea is to boost the HST to a higher orbit and let it continue to live long beyond its current 2010 lifetime. One intriguing option might be to shift it to the ISS and shift the ISS from being just a white elephant science project to including commercially valuable repair and servicing missions. With a permanent space station, the clock on getting a door unstuck or some other difficult repair done isn't ticking. You need a tool or a replacement part you don't have? Wait a few weeks or months and a resupply shuttle will bring it up. The cost of changing an entire mission profile to make a special trip to service the satellite goes away. Repairs are much more practical and less expensive. This may fill some of the holes in the ISS budget that are likely to be formed as the US winds down government participation.

HT: Slashdot

Posted by TMLutas at January 20, 2004 12:48 PM