Hubble Telescope Reboost
NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement on Thursday, September 22 to investigate the viability of a SpaceX and Polaris Program proposal to push the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, at no cost to the government.
NASA has no plans to execute or support a servicing mission or compete for this chance; the purpose of this study is to help the agency comprehend the commercial possibilities.
This study was proposed by SpaceX and the Polaris Program to better understand the technical constraints associated with servicing missions. This research is non-exclusive, and other businesses may propose comparable research using different rockets or spacecraft as a model.
Teams anticipate the investigation to take up to six months, during which time they will collect technical data from both Hubble and the SpaceX Dragon mission. This information will assist assess whether it would be possible to safely dock the telescope and maneuver it into a more stable orbit.
Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, remarked, “This study is an intriguing illustration of the novel ways NASA is pursuing through private-public collaborations.” “As our fleet expands, we intend to investigate a vast array of options to provide the most robust and exceptional science missions imaginable.”
Hubble and Dragon will serve as test models for this investigation, but aspects of the mission idea may be applicable to other spacecraft, especially those in near-Earth orbit like Hubble.
Since 1990, Hubble has been operating around 335 miles above the Earth in a decreasing orbit. Reboosting Hubble into a higher, more stable orbit could extend its operational lifetime by several years. At the conclusion of Hubble’s operational life, NASA intends to safely deorbit or dispose of it.
SpaceX’s vice president of customer operations and integration, Jessica Jensen, stated that the Polaris Program and SpaceX intend to push the limits of existing technology and investigate how commercial partnerships may creatively address difficult, complicated problems. “Missions such as Hubble servicing would help us increase our space capabilities, allowing us to reach our ultimate objective of becoming a spacefaring, multiplanet society.”
NASA and ESA are international partners in the Hubble Space Telescope project (European Space Agency). The telescope is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. In Baltimore, Maryland, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) handles Hubble science operations. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington operates STScI for NASA.
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More Information: NASA, SpaceX to Study Hubble Telescope Reboost Possibility / Amazing Video