The The Hubble Space Telescope, a science warrior, has spent more than 30 years in orbit studying the mysteries of the universe, and NASA would like to extend his lifespan as long as possible. It may be long, but Elon Musk’s SpaceX could potentially step in to give Hubble a hand.
NASA, SpaceX and Jared Isaacman, a private astronaut with the Polaris Programhosted a media conference call on Thursday to announce a feasibility study that will examine sending a commercial Dragon spacecraft to relaunch Hubble, putting the telescope in a higher and more stable orbit than it is in now.
The study will cost the government nothing. “NASA is not expected to conduct or fund any maintenance mission or contribute to this opportunity; the study is designed to help the agency understand commercial opportunities,” NASA said in a statement.
The study is expected to take up to six months and will focus on whether it would be technically possible for a Crew Dragon to “safely rendezvous, dock and move the telescope into a higher orbit.” steady”. None of the teleconference attendees were ready to present detailed plans for what a Hubble reboost mission might look like and whether it would even require a crew on board. Isaacman’s participation suggests a Polaris Dawn SpaceX mission could be on the cards if a plan comes to fruition.
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Hubble’s orbit has slowly deteriorated over time. According to Hubble project manager Patrick Crouse, the observatory has fallen about 19 miles (30 kilometers) since its last servicing mission in 2009 and has an estimated 50% chance of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere in 2037. if nothing is done. NASA already hopes that Hubble will remain operational until the end of this decade, but the booster could add years to its lifespan.
NASA representatives stressed that Hubble is in good health and continues its scientific operations. The telescope has withstood many technical problems over the years and has been the subject of five different servicing missions using NASA’s now-retired space shuttle fleet.
NASA has made efforts to establish partnerships with commercial space providers. SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules are already carrying astronauts to the International Space Station. This study suggests broader possibilities. “While Hubble and Dragon will serve as test models for this study,” NASA said, “portions of the mission concept may be applicable to other spacecraft, especially those in near-Earth orbit like Hubble.” .
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