Hubble Repair with Soyuz?

I’ve read a lot lately about NASA’s decision to cut short the life of the Hubble Space Telescope and subsequent cries for this not to happen. All the discussion I’m hearing so far, though, is centered around a shuttle mission. If a shuttle mission is out (for whatever reason), why can’t we send a Soyuz mission? After all, we don’t need the cargo space to send a whole new Hubble up there, it’s just a repair job where they replace a few parts is it not?

Oh, and a link to the latest news on the subject.

I think its a good idea, at this point post-Columbia disaster, for NASA to cut its losses on Hubble. If it lasts until 2010 that’s still nearly 20 years. It was almost not worth fixing it the first time. Each Shuttle mission costs nearly half a billion dollars and the Hubble repair one cost even more!

I don’t think it would be possible to do it with a Soyuz craft. They have no airlock, and they have no capacity for the equipment (EVA suits, tools etc.) that would be needed.

Soyuz doesn’t have the rigth hardware to hard-dock with the Hubble.

Soyuz only holds three people. Two at a time are needed while working on the Hubble, leaving only one inside to keep an eye on the ship. Those two working on the Hubble are going to have to work on it for several days in a row, with no chance to rest - when the Shuttle astronauts work on the Hubble, they have multiple spacewalkers so they can alternate days between working and resting. Working all day in a spacesuit is physically exhausting.

Soyuz doesn’t have much cargo capacity, almost certainly not enough for all the spare parts desired for the Hubble mission.

Soyuz doesn’t have a manipulator arm, so the astronauts will have to manually climb from the Soyuz capsule to the work area, dragging heavy, fragile replacement parts with them.

Soyuz also can’t easily reach Hubble’s orbital inclination. The ISS was launched into an orbital inclination easily reachable from the Russian launch centers. Hubble wasn’t; it was launched into an ideal inclination for the Shuttle.

The Hubble has to be repaired by the Space Shuttle or not at all. There’s no vehicle in existance that has the capabilities it has.

One major problem: Soyuz can only get to around 400 km, and that’s not accounting for the weight of the new instruments they plan to install. Hubble orbits at 569 km.

The Soyuz does have EVA capability. However I’m sure there’s no room for a full-sized Hubble instrument. As you can see here,they are quite large. (That’s a painting, not a photo, but appears accurate.)

Also the Hubble is in a 28-degree inclination orbit. The Soyuz launch site (Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan) is at a high latitude, and can only launch to 49 degree or larger inclination orbit.

Well, darn. I guess that settles that! On the up side, it appears that the shuttle may no longer be used for ISS crew replacement, which perhaps could free up a Hubble-repair mission. :: Crosses fingers ::

Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of freeing up a Shuttle flight. The question is whether it’s safe to send a Shuttle to the Hubble at all. From this article:

But since the Shuttles will be retired soon, such upgrades (i.e. means to inspect the Shuttle during flight, and provisions for rescue flights) will never be made.

Yea, I’ve read that also. Before we get too pessimistic, the story about just what is happening with the shuttles in the medium-near future still seems (ahem) up-in-the-air. The article that we both linked to still left open the possibility that a shuttle flight may yet make it to Hubble. Thus, I continue to cross my fingers and hope …