A while ago, it was announced that Hubble might not be serviced anymore. It will eat through its remaining battery power and become an orbiting piece of junk. Scientists cried. A lot. So, not too long ago, there came news that NASA was reconsidering.
Since the shuttle is grounded, sending a manned crew up there to fix it is pretty much out of the question. The news over the last week has been that NASA is considering sending up a robot — the Canadian Dextre (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator). Dextre was designed with the Space Station in mind, but it is apparently capable enough to service Hubble on its own. It looks capable enough.
However, something about the design of Dextre seems to stick out for me. Here we have this robotic body with a tool holder and a “latching end effector”, two seperate arms and, er, an “Orbital Replacement Unit”. I don’t know if it’s intentional — and I feel sorry for even thinking this — but that ORU looks like a giant robotic penis. Everytime I look at it, I can’t help but see this “unit”.
Canada: the world leader in extraterrestrial appendages!
Of course, the latest news is that NASA has no such formal plans, but as Dextre is still scheduled to go up to the ISS next year, consider the recent news pre-launch hype. It’s just too bad that it can’t go up and fuck around with Hubble. A good servicing is exactly what it needs.