Twelve years ago, Space Shuttle Columbia has embarked on his tenth flight around the planet. During that nine-days trip, Columbia’s Broad Band X-Ray Telescope (BBXRT) imaged difficult-to-detect cosmic rays and collected data on galactic and intergalactic X-ray energy sources, logging over 50 hours of observation. And now, this NASA artifact, BBXRT is released for sale on eBay by Virginia surplus company for a whopping $7 million!
Item description: The BBXRT consists of a pair of coaligned thin foil conical X-ray mirrors, with a cryogenically-cooled, Si(Li) spectrometer at the focus of each. The X-ray mirrors have a focal length of 3.8 m and a diameter of 40 cm. Each mirror consists of 118 nested pairs of reflectors. Each reflector consists of 0.017 mm thick aluminum shaped into a cone, coated with an acrylic lacquer to form a microscopically smooth surface, which is overcoated with gold to enhance X-ray reflectivity. The spatial resolution of the telescope is 1.3 arcmin (half power radius) and the plate scale is 0.91 arcmin per cm. The detectors are segmented into five discrete Si(Li) detection elements, each with 512 energy channels. The circular central element has a diameter (field of view) of 4.0 arc minutes. The outer ring extends the field of view to 17 arcminutes, and is divided into four 90 degree segments. Each is located in a cryogenically-cooled vacuum cryostat. Attached to each cryostat is a solid argon cooler with a 90 lb capacity.
To us laity, these data mean nothing, but there are those to whom are very interesting. The only thing I understand is that X-ray telescope weighs nearly a ton, or more precisely 840kg, so I wonder where the new owner will keep it and what for it will serve to him. However, there were already 96 bids for this world class artifact over the past year (the first offer was made in January of 2011).
Roughly a decade and more, US Space Shuttle program is no longer in operation, it is replaced by Russian and private-sector ships.