Skip to Main Content
The NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was designed to be deployed and later serviced for maintenance and upgrades, as required, by the space shuttle fleet, with a 5-year mission life for the batteries. HST was deployed 380 miles above the Earth, from Space Shuttle Discovery, on April 25, 1990. Four servicing missions, (SM1, SM2, SM3A, AND SM3B) have been performed. Astronauts have replaced or modified optics, solar arrays, a power control unit, and various science packages. A fifth servicing mission, SM4 scheduled for early 2004, is planned to replace the batteries for the first time. The HST is powered by solar array wings and nickel hydrogen (NiH2) 22-cell batteries, which are grouped into two parallel battery modules of three parallel batteries each. With a design life of 7 years at launch, these batteries have surpassed 12 years in orbit, which gives HST the highest number of charge/discharge cycles of any NiH2 battery currently in low earth orbit (LEO) application. Being in a LEO orbit, HST has a 36-minute umbra period, during which spacecraft power requirements normally force the batteries into discharge, and a 60-minute sun period, which is available for battery recharge. The intent of this paper is to address the issue of NiH2 battery reliability and how battery capacity degradation can impact scheduling of a servicing mission to bring replacement batteries to HST, and extend mission life until deployment of Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), planned for 2010 at the earliest.