SpaceX offers NASA to extend Hubble’s life

Launched in April 1990, Hubble is still running. SpaceX has offered NASA to send a Crew Dragon to increase the space telescope’s orbit, extending its lifespan until 2050! This mission could be carried out under the Polaris program. An idea that NASA likes. In six months, SpaceX will present a feasibility study to NASA that will decide whether or not to fund such a mission to Hubble.

NASA and SpaceXSpaceX announced the study of a mission concept aimed at sending a Crew DragonCrew Dragon to improve theorbitorbit from Hubble Space TelescopeHubble Space Telescope, or even carry out some maintenance activities that remain to be defined. The purpose of this mission is to extend the life of this one telescopetelescope which revolutionized modern astronomy.

This study will take about six months, said Jessica Jensen, SpaceX’s vice president of operations and customer onboarding. Part of the study will be to determine the cost, the schedule and what will be needed to complete the mission safely “he said. The study will primarily focus on the technical aspects of a restart or maintenance mission, he said,” but, everything is on the table “. Including the” whether the mission would require astronauts “, He concludes.

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From its inception, the telescope was designed to allow astronauts to carry out short maintenance visits, as was the case in 1993, 1997, late 1999 and 2002. These missions have been very useful. They have greatly contributed to the longevity of its operational activity through the maintenance and replacement of instruments and solar panels, for example, but most importantly through the repair of several failed components such as gyroscopes.

Raise the orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope

The idea would be to send a Crew Dragon to dock with Hubble, presumably using the capture mechanism installed during the shuttle’s last maintenance mission in 2009, and increase its orbit by several tens of kilometers. Today, ” Hubble is located approximately 535 kilometers above sea level. said Patrick Crouse, head of the Hubble program at NASA’s Goddard Space Center. At the current rate of decline in Hubble’s orbit, there is ” a 50% chance that Hubble will enter theatmosphereatmosphere by 2037 “.

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The goal of the SpaceX mission would be to return Hubble to an altitude of about 600 kilometers, where its mission began in April 1990, more than thirty years ago. If that’s the case, ” this would add 15 or even 20 years of life to Hubble ! This mission ” obviously it will not reach the level of complexity of some of the maintenance missions that have been carried out in the past with the shuttle “, Patrick Crouse wishes to specify, although very impatient” to study the proposals made by SpaceX “.

If NASA and SpaceX decide on such a mission, it could be part of the Polaris program, an initiative by SpaceX and Jared Isaacman that plans to build several manned flightsmanned flights commercial aboard Crew Dragon and Starship when in operation. Jared Isaacman, who led the Inspiration4 private mission a year ago, will command the first mission PolarPolar, Polar Dawn, now scheduled for the first quarter of 2023. This flight will include the first spacewalk from a Crew Dragon spacecraft. Isaacman suggested that this Hubble relaunch or maintenance mission could be the second Polaris mission.

This initiative by SpaceX and Jared Isaacman could give hints to companies that develop and offer service missions to satellites. This is particularly the case with Northrop Grumman’s MEV vehicle, two of which are linked to Intelsat communication satellites in geostationary orbit to extend their lifespan.

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