2005: Mission to Hubble
Could it really happen? Could a powerful telescope actually be placed in a location only dreamed about by astronomers and scientists, a location where its view of the heavens would be free of the distorting effects of Earth's own atmosphere? Not since Galileo first used his simple optics to peer into the heavens has a telescope promised to so dramatically change our view of the universe. On April 25, 1990 the dream became reality as NASA, using the space shuttle Discovery, deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
But as the first views were received the engineers and scientists knew something was wrong; its vision was blurred. A massive and exhausting analysis traced the problem to a tiny flaw in the process used to make and test the mirror at the heart of the Hubble space telescope. Even as the problem was being identified, engineers began thinking about how it could be repaired, and a plan evolved. In December of 1993 NASA flew the Space Shuttle and its crew on a mission to add ingenious instruments that would correct the flaw. It was an amazing success and Hubble was able to open the window to discoveries beyond anyone's imagination.
Over the years as the Hubble continued its mission, onboard systems aged and some even failed. But the Hubble is a unique spacecraft; from the beginning it was designed such that astronauts could repair it while it orbited the earth. On three additional shuttle flights the Hubble was repaired and updated by teams of skilled astronauts.
In February 2003, the world was harshly reminded of just how difficult it is to fly into space and return to the Earth. Shuttle Columbia and its crew of explorers were lost on reentry.
As engineers worked to discover what had gone wrong and to design ways to prevent it from happening again, the shuttles did not fly. Although the Hubble was not being serviced, it carried on with its task. But as the Hubble worked, it also continued to age and its batteries and gyroscopes continued to deteriorate and fail. And with no shuttle missions to boost it higher into orbit, the relentless action of earth's gravity and the ever so slight friction of the atmosphere, evident even in orbit, together conspired to pull the Hubble toward an uncontrolled reentry, possibly over populated areas. Despite these concerns, it was necessary for NASA to make the difficult decision to never again send manned missions to service the Hubble. But all was not lost for the Space telescope.
In June of 2004 NASA made the remarkable announcement that it would seek proposals to send a robot to service the Hubble. Had the state of the art in robotic development reached the point where robots could do tasks designed for human hands? NASA believed it had, and the call went out to the robot experts of the world for a robot that could service the Hubble. In September of 2005, BEST Robotics Incorporated answers that call.
Students will be given the task of designing a robot capable of replacing the Hubble's aging batteries and gyroscopes. Additionally, that robot must be able to attach De-orbit rocket engines to the Hubble to allow for a controlled reentry when its mission is finally concluded.
Students will not only design the robot, they will be required to control the robots during the mission itself. Only the BEST robots and only the BEST teams will succeed.
On this complex task, 4 robots will work together to repair the Hubble space telescope. New gyro/battery units and a de-orbit rocket engine have been launched and are waiting in orbit on 4 specially designed Space Tugs. Orbital rendezvous between the BEST servicing robot, the Space Tug and the Hubble can only be maintained for 3 minutes. Robots that complete the mission the quickest will be awarded all future servicing contracts. In the event none of the robots can complete the mission before the rendezvous time expires, robots completing the most mission critical tasks will be considered for future contracts.
A specific panel on the Hubble will be assigned to each robot. Located on that panel are a power switch, 8 depleted gyro/battery units, and a location for the de-orbit rocket engine.
Kickoff, September 10, 2005 (Kick Off Day Pictures)
Wichita State University, Wichita Kansas
Mall Day, October 16, 2005 (Mall Day Pictures)
Towne West Mall, Wichita Kansas
Game Day, October 22, 2005
Charles Koch Arena, Wichita State University, Wichita Kansas
Game Day Results (Game Day Pictures)
1st Wichita Home School
2nd Rose Hill High School
3rd Johnson County Home School
1st Ambassadors for Christ Academy
2nd Wichita Home School
3rd Goddard High School
The Boeing Creativity Award - Wichita Home School
The Engenio Most Robust Design Award - Circle High School
The Raytheon Aircraft Craftsmanship Award - Rose Hill High School
The Cessna Teamwork Award - Circle High School
The Sportsmanship Award - Wichita Home School