Today’s Tidbits: October 8, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: October 8, 2018

Here are’s tidbits for October 8, 2018:  Hubble trouble; IAF elects first woman president; University of Nebraska Space Law Network in action.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Hubble Trouble

NASA’s beloved Hubble Space Telescope is having a bit of a problem, although its operators do not seem overly worried so far.

The telescope uses gyroscopes to point it in the right direction to observe various parts of the universe.  Launched in 1990 on the space shuttle, astronauts returned to it five times to repair or replace systems and instruments. The final servicing mission was in 2009 at which time all six gyros were replaced.  The United States terminated the space shuttle program in 2011 so astronauts cannot do anything this time.

Hubble has six gyros. Three are needed for precise observations. Three of the six gyros use an old design and three are a new “enhanced” design expected to have longer lifetimes.  Two of the older version gyros failed previously.  Hubble has been operating with one old and two new, with the third new version in reserve.

The third old one gave up the ghost on Friday and the telescope put itself into safe mode.  Operators at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) were not surprised at the failure, but when they turned on the reserve gyro “analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations.” []

Thus, Hubble remains in safe mode until operators can determine what is going on with that third enhanced gyro.  An Anomaly Review Board has been established to determine whether they can get it to work or not.  If not, Hubble still can do some observations if only one or two gyros are functioning, just not the full range of studies it is designed to do.

IAF Elects First Woman President

It took 67 years, but the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) finally elected a woman as its incoming president last week.  Pascale Ehrenfreund, chair of the German space agency, DLR, will succeed Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of France’s space agency, CNES.  Le Gall and DLR, as well as Women in Aerospace(WIA)-Europe, tweeted the great news.


IAF was created in 1951, even before the Space Age began, to serve as a venue where scientists and engineers from around the world could meet to discuss space research and development despite the polarised Cold War climate of the day.  Its annual International Astronautical Congresses (IACs) continue to be the premier international space conferences and include meetings of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) as well.  The 2018 IAC just concluded in Bremen, Germany.  Next year it will take place in Washington, DC.

Ehrenfreund is well known in U.S. space science and space policy circles. An Austrian, she received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Vienna in astronomy and biology and began her career as an astrobiologist in Europe.  In 2005, she became a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at JPL and later was a professor of space policy at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute as well as Lead Investigator at the NASA Astrobiology Institute.  She was appointed chair of the DLR Executive Board in 2015.

Congrats, Pascale!

University of Nebraska Space Law Network in Action

Matthew Schaefer and Elsbeth Magilton of the space, cyber and telecommunication law program. Credit: Craig Chandler/ University Communication (University of Nebraska)

Two weeks ago the University of Nebraska’s College of Law announced that it had won a $250,000 grant from NASA to create a Space Law Network.  It is getting off to a fast start.

The goal is “to support, educate and provide opportunities to law students across the country who are interested in space law and policy” according to Elsbeth Magilton, executive director of the Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law program there.  She and Matt Schafer, co-director and program faculty, are leading the project.

One purpose is to fund students to attend space law conferences to learn from scholars in the field.  Magilton tweeted that they received 70 applications already for a conference coming up October 18-20 in New York City:  the International Law Weekend sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA).  The next round of travel grants will be for the Eilene M. Galloway Symposium on Critical Issues in Space Law in Washington, DC on December 5.

More information is at this link: []

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