NASA Struggles to Restore Aging Payload Computer on Hubble Space Telescope – May Resort to Backup System

The Hubble Space Telescope is deployed on April 25, 1990, from the space shuttle Discovery. Avoiding distortions of the atmosphere, Hubble has an unobstructed view peering to planets, stars, and galaxies, some more than 13.4 billion light years away.
Credit: NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Lockheed Corporation

NASA continues to work to resolve a problem with the Hubble Space Telescope payload computer that halted on June 13. After performing tests on several of the computer’s memory modules, the results indicate that a different piece of computer hardware may have caused the problem, with the memory errors being only a symptom. The operations team is investigating whether the Standard Interface (STINT) hardware, which bridges communications between the computer’s Central Processing Module (CPM) and other components, or the CPM itself is responsible for the issue. The team is currently designing tests that will be run in the next few days to attempt to further isolate the problem and identify a potential solution.

This step is important for determining what hardware is still working properly for future reference. If the problem with the payload computer can’t be fixed, the operations team will be prepared to switch to the STINT and CPM hardware onboard the backup payload computer. The team has conducted ground tests and operations procedure reviews to verify all the commanding required to perform that switch on the spacecraft.

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