SpaceX may be involved in the maintenance of Hubble – this will extend the life of the space telescope

It is quite possible that the maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope will be carried out in the future with the involvement of private companies. It became known that the American aerospace company SpaceX and NASA will assess the possibility of using Dragon spacecraft for these purposes. The study will last six months.

Image Source: NASA/SpaceX

Since the launch of the Hubble in April 1990, five missions have been sent to it, during which astronauts have been engaged in its repair, maintenance and modernization. Previously, the Space Shuttle was used to deliver astronauts to the Hubble, but in 2011 this program was closed. The last Hubble service was in 2009.

NASA announced on September 29 that it is conducting a joint study with SpaceX to explore the possibility of sending a Dragon spacecraft to Hubble to, among other things, boost its orbit.

Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer experience and integration at SpaceX, explained during a press conference that the parties are planning “Study the capabilities of the Dragon and how they will need to be modified in order to safely rendezvous and dock with the Hubble.” She added that the possibility of launching the Dragon Hubble mission without the presence of astronauts will also be considered.

Due to atmospheric resistance, the height of the Hubble orbit has decreased slightly over 33 years. The telescope is currently orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 540 km, about 60 km below its initial orbit. In this regard, the probability of its fall to Earth by 2037 has increased to 50%. NASA said returning Hubble to its original 600 km orbit would potentially allow the space observatory to continue operating for another 15 to 20 years.

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