Although America’s space agency has perpetually seen its funding threatened and reduced in recent years, few would argue that the nation’s defense agency, the Pentagon, suffers from the same problem.
That disparity is so great that Pentagon official dialed up NASA last year and revealed that the National Reconnaissance Office had secretly developed not one, but two space telescopes more powerful than Hubble, adding that the military just didn’t bother to deploy them.
For an agency credited with some of the most incredible technological innovations in human history, the revelation that two more powerful Hubbles even existed must have been a complete shock, especially considering that the Bush administration less than a decade ago almost cut NASA’s funds for a crucial Hubble repair mission.
Then they really dropped the bomb: Since the Pentagon never got around to using the telescopes, they figured NASA might be just the place to offload the old hardware.
Pentagon officials didn’t say what they’d planned to use the telescopes for, and NASA officials told The New York Times that they were in “bits and pieces,” lacking key parts. They’re also designed to be shorter and wider than Hubble, giving them a much wider field of view.
NASA said it is preparing to re-purpose the telescopes to boost their studies of dark matter, which currently sits atop the National Academy of Sciences’ priorities list.
The National Reconnaissance Office refused to offer any comment on the story.
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