Elon Musk-led SpaceX is now conducting a non-exclusive study to see if it is possible to re-boost the flying observatory and give it new life.
Hubble has completed over a billion seconds in space. (Photo: Nasa)
- SpaceX is now conducting a non-exclusive study
- SpaceX proposed the study in September this year
- Teams expect the study to take up to six months
By India Today Web Desk: Nearly three decades and several maintenance later, the Hubble space telescope continues to unravel the mysteries of the universe. The spacecraft has been operating in an orbit around Earth, since the 1990s and has not only helped humans look beyond the Solar System, but also find exoplanets, nebulas, and other cosmic phenomena.
Elon Musk-led SpaceX is now conducting a non-exclusive study to see if it is possible to re-boost the flying observatory and give it new life. The American space agency, Nasa, has asked for additional information about commercial capabilities available to re-boost a satellite in orbit.
However, Nasa has cleared, "There are no plans at this time for Nasa to conduct or fund a dedicated Hubble servicing mission."
The Hubble telescope currently orbits at an altitude of 540 kilometers above the planet, and to re-boost its orbit will require sending a spacecraft and SpaceX's Dragon had flown over 500 kilometers above Earth during the Indipration-4 mission.
Hubble telescope will act as a demonstration mission. (Photo: Nasa)
SpaceX in partnership with the Polaris Program proposed the study in September this year to better understand the technical challenges associated with servicing missions. Nasa said that teams expect the study to take up to six months, collecting technical data from both Hubble and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This data will help determine whether it would be possible to safely rendezvous, dock, and move the telescope into a more stable orbit.
“This study is an exciting example of the innovative approaches Nasa is exploring through private-public partnerships. As our fleet grows, we want to explore a wide range of opportunities to support the most robust, superlative science missions possible,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at Nasa said.
The idea is to develop a capability to raise the orbits of other satellites in the future and the Hubble will act as a demonstration mission.
"Re-boosting Hubble into a higher, more stable orbit could add multiple years of operations to its life. At the end of its lifetime, Nasa plans to safely de-orbit or dispose of Hubble," Nasa said.
Hubble has completed over a billion seconds in space during its 31-year-long career in zero gravity. During the course of its operations, the flying observatory has been serviced several times to replace and repair components of the telescope, and more than 1.5 million scientific observations and counting.
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