SpaceX offers NASA to extend Hubble’s lifespan

Launched in April 1990, Hubble is still working. SpaceX offered NASA to send a Crew Dragon to raise the space telescope’s orbit, which would extend its lifespan until 2050! This mission could be carried out under the Polaris program. An idea that NASA likes. In six months, SpaceX will submit 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 dragon crewdragon crew to improve theorbitorbit from Hubble Space TelescopeHubble Space Telescope, or even perform some maintenance tasks that have not yet been defined. The purpose of this mission is to prolong the life of this telescopetelescope that revolutionized modern astronomy.

This study will take about six months, said Jessica Jensen, SpaceX vice president of operations and customer integration. part of the study will be to determine the cost, schedule, and what will need to be done to complete the mission safely. “, she said. The study will focus primarily on the technical aspects of a restart or maintenance mission, she 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 make small maintenance visits, as was the case in 1993, 1997, late 1999, and 2002. These missions have been very helpful. They contributed a lot to the longevity of its operational activity through the maintenance and replacement of instruments and solar panels, for example, but above all through the repair of various faulty components such as the gyroscopes.

Elevating the orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope

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

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The purpose of SpaceX’s mission would be to bring Hubble back 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 to Hubble’s life »! This mission” obviously will not reach the level of complexity of some of the maintenance missions that have been carried out in the past with the space shuttle », wants to specify Patrick Crouse, but very impatient « 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 carry out 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 lead the first mission PolarPolar, Polaris Dawn, now scheduled for the first quarter of 2023. This flight will include the first spacewalk by 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 can provide ideas for companies that develop and offer satellite service missions. This is particularly the case for 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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