NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Experiences Another Glitch

Now Hubble is once again out of operation for scientific reasons due to a malfunctioning gyroscope. This last hitch has stirred the state and debate on possibility of servicing mission to lengthen the lifespan of the telescope. Gyroscope Problems and Their Near-Term Effects The gyroscopes in the Hubble Space Telescope became problematic when the observatory’s automatic systems put the telescope into safe mode due to erroneous telemetry readings from one of the three functioning.

Emergency Shutdown November 10, 2018 Hubble entered safe mode after the gyros problem November 21, 2018 – Hubble issued safe mode after dumping unnecessary data into the memory November 24, These gyroscopes are as follows,They are used in orienting the telescope pointing to distant astral objects. Here are the key points about the issue:Here are the key points about the issue:

  • Date of Issue: May 24, 2024
  • Cause: Faulty telemetry readings from one of the gyroscopes
  • Effect: Hubble entered safe mode, suspending scientific operations
  • Current Status: Hubble’s instruments remain stable, and the telescope is in good health overall, but science operations are paused while NASA investigates the problem​ (NASA Science)​​ (NASA Science)​.

Historical Context and Technological Challenges

Launched in 1990, Hubble has been a cornerstone of astronomical discovery for over three decades. However, maintaining an aging spacecraft presents significant challenges. Notably:

  • Gyroscope History: Hubble originally had six gyros. Three were replaced during the last servicing mission in 2009, and three have malfunctioned since then.

  • Previous Malfunctions: Similar gyroscope issues have occurred in the past, necessitating periods of safe mode and investigation​ .

Potential Solutions: Private Servicing Missions

The recent gyroscope issues have sparked renewed interest in private servicing missions. Jared Isaacman, the billionaire behind SpaceX’s Polaris program, has expressed readiness to undertake a mission to service Hubble. Key points include:

  1. Proposal Date: Initial proposal in September 2022
  2. Feasibility Study: Conducted by NASA, SpaceX, and Isaacman, concluding the feasibility of a reboost and servicing mission using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon
  3. Challenges: Complexity of the mission, including the need for capabilities like an airlock and a robotic arm for detailed repairs
  4. Current Discussions: Ongoing evaluation of proposals from other companies for potential commercial missions to reboost Hubble​ (SpaceNews)​.

Impact on Scientific Research

Hubble's contributions to science are monumental, and any downtime directly impacts ongoing and future research. The current issue with the gyroscope means:

  • Observations Affected: Some planned observations will need to be rescheduled, creating potential gaps in data collection
  • Research Impact: Delay in capturing detailed images and data that contribute to our understanding of the universe.

Looking Ahead

Despite these challenges, NASA remains committed to ensuring Hubble’s longevity. The agency’s collaboration with private companies represents an innovative approach to solving the logistical and financial challenges of space telescope maintenance. Key points for the future include:

  • Private Missions: Potential for private missions to reboost and service Hubble, extending its operational life
  • Ongoing Efforts: Continuous efforts by NASA to address current issues and plan for future maintenance
  • Scientific Contributions: Hubble is expected to continue contributing to astronomical discoveries for years to come, provided these issues are resolved​ .


This latest failure in Hubble Space Telescope’s functionality shows that it is always a problem to run outdated space equipment. Yet, there are tentative plans for future private manned servicing missions and NASA continues its work on the telescope, so there is hope that Hubble will remain collecting data and expanding our data of the universe for years to come. This situation is a good example of the need to develop and coordinate space missions to preserve legendary tools such as the Hubble Space Telescope that continues revealing the secrets of the Universe.