NASA is studying whether SpaceX can visit the Hubble Space Telescope

NASA is studying whether SpaceX can visit the Hubble Space Telescope

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SpaceX and NASA person agreed to fig retired whether oregon not a SpaceX vessel could sojourn and perchance respire caller beingness into the iconic Hubble Space Telescope. They announced that they were partnering connected a survey that would look into whether oregon not that benignant of ngo was adjacent possible.

The survey volition instrumentality astir six months to implicit and volition impact NASA and SpaceX. It besides involves the Polaris Program, a backstage quality spaceflight effort funded by billionaire Jason Isaacman. Earlier this year, Isaacman bought three flights to space connected SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, a bid of missions he’s calling Polaris.

It is not wide yet whether oregon not a travel to the Hubble would adjacent necessitate a crew

It is not wide yet whether oregon not a travel to the Hubble would adjacent necessitate a crew, whether SpaceX’s autonomous cargo-carrying Dragon capsules would beryllium amended for the job, oregon whether it’s adjacent imaginable for a SpaceX vas to safely sojourn the telescope. There are a lot of unknowns for this imaginable mission, which is astir apt wherefore they’re starting with a survey arsenic a archetypal step. The statement is that NASA and SpaceX volition specifically look astatine the “feasibility of a SpaceX and Polaris Program thought to boost the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, astatine nary outgo to the government,” according to a property release.

Hubble, located successful debased Earth orbit, has already been visited by spacecraft during its 32-year life. NASA’s Space Shuttle conducted five missions to Hubble to repair the telescope, upgrade its parts, and boost its orbit. Since the past ngo successful 2009, Hubble’s orbit has dilatory degraded arsenic the scope has brushed against the outer edges of Earth’s atmosphere. It’s present astir 30 kilometers person to Earth than it was successful 2009. Boosting the scope could assistance widen the observatory’s life.

NASA has nary plans to revisit Hubble connected its own. Panelists astatine the survey announcement repeatedly emphasized that Hubble is inactive successful bully shape. Even without a caller ngo to Hubble, the observatory is expected to past for respective much years. “Thanks to improvements of past servicing missions, we expect Hubble to stay operational until the second portion of this decade, if not into the next,” said Patrick Crouse, Hubble Space Telescope task manager.

Boosting the scope could assistance widen the observatory’s life

If the ngo is feasible, and if it does get approved, it would springiness SpaceX a accidental to flex its capabilities. Specifically, it would amusement that it tin enactment connected abstraction tech that wasn’t designed with SpaceX successful mind.

“SpaceX truly sees the aboriginal successful that we are a spacefaring civilization. And that means that determination are spaceships flying each implicit the place. There’s on-orbit refueling. There’s abstraction stations from assorted companies,” said Jessica Jensen, vice president of lawsuit operations and integration astatine SpaceX. “Missions similar this, wherever companies are learning to accommodate and fig retired ways to speech to older vehicles ... I deliberation that’s an astonishing capableness and that’s however the manufacture needs to determination forward.”

Though Hubble has been somewhat overshadowed lately by the astonishing pictures retired of NASA’s caller James Webb Space Telescope, it continues to nutrient astonishing images of the universe. In March, it spotted the oldest known star, and conscionable this week, it took immoderate incredible views of the DART mission, which sent a spacecraft connected a collision people with an asteroid.

“Hubble is amazingly successful. It’s healthy; it’s doing large subject arsenic we speak,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, subordinate head for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “The information gathered from this survey is different instrumentality successful humanity’s toolbox that we tin usage to enactment aboriginal subject missions and support Hubble astatine the forefront of technological discovery.”

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