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From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Book review: "The Hubble Wars"
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 13:55:03 GMT

In article <>,
Graham Nelson  <> wrote:
>After a while, I began to feel a certain sympathy for Chaisson's

The story I hear is that people who were actually there, on reading the
book, tend to say "now wait a minute, that's not really right" at least
once a chapter.  Chaisson had, at the very least, an incomplete and biased

>...It seems that the Goddard Center, the Marshall Center and STSI
>had no clear idea who was in charge, or whose authority was needed to
>establish policy, during the transition to operational status...

And interestingly enough, the Space Station started out with a similar
"everyone's involved and nobody's in charge" management structure, and
didn't get a more sensible organization until very late in the game.
Which may account for some of its delays and problems...

>...and component failures abounded: two of the six
>gyroscopes died during passes through the Anomaly and a third gave
>trouble.  (Had Hubble lost even one more gyroscope, it might have been
>left irreparably damaged, spinning and inaccessible to Shuttle

No, this is incorrect -- Hubble actually has a separate emergency gyro
system, not precise enough for observing, solely to make sure that it
can always be stabilized for Shuttle rendezvous.

>...Chaisson spends much of the book, then,
>observing that "somebody blundered" and alluding to classified
>military sources.  My impression is that the spook community was
>rather friendly and helpful to the STSI astronomers once Hubble was
>up, though.

And the real problem during development was not that "somebody blundered",
but that the cloak of secrecy surrounding spysat technology made it very
difficult for Hubble -- being built by an open civilian agency which finds
it very awkward to get involved with military secrets -- to benefit from
the spysat experience.  "Somebody blundered" suggests that Hubble's
developers overlooked or disregarded an important source of information,
but in fact that information simply was not available to them in any
reasonable way.  (No, not even to people working for the same contractors
who build the spysats -- the compartmentalization of such things is rigid,
and rigidly enforced.)  Chaisson may have an exaggerated idea of Hubble's
importance; it did not have the level of clout needed to routinely pry
open secret sources.  And in its later phases it was constantly short of
money, which encourages management not to "waste" funds investigating
things that *might* be relevant but will certainly be difficult and
time-consuming to pursue.
Being the last man on the Moon is a |  Henry Spencer
very dubious honor. -- Gene Cernan  |      (aka

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Book review: "The Hubble Wars"
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 01:57:30 GMT

In article <rnPt1.1161$>,
Dwayne Allen Day  <> wrote:
>The full story on this is not in, but I find this whole line of argument
>very dubious.  Lockheed built Hubble.  They also built the spooksats.  I
>doubt that they kept their mouths shut deliberately on this while they
>watched someone else screw up.

I've talked to people who watched it happen, on other projects -- they
said it was very frustrating, for all concerned, when the guys at the next
table in the cafeteria had already solved the problems you were only
starting to understand, but couldn't talk to you about it.  It wasn't in
Lockheed's power to change this.

>This strikes me as more baloney.  "...nor can civilians determine..."
>NASA owned TDRSS!  NASA was civilian!

You're confusing ownership with usage.  The shuttle is NASA-owned, but
nevertheless has flown classified military missions about which very
little information has ever been available.  TDRSS had (and I believe
still has) military/spook users, who impose constraints on the extent
to which NASA can reveal their activities.
Being the last man on the Moon is a |  Henry Spencer
very dubious honor. -- Gene Cernan  |      (aka

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