We know more about the agreement signed at the end of September between SpaceX and NASA on the future of the Hubble telescope. According to the US space agency, it is a SpaceX “Dragon” spacecraft that will propel the Hubble telescope into a higher orbit, thus de facto extending the initial mission of NASA’s toy.
SpaceX and NASA recently unveiled a new project to extend the mission and life of the Hubble Telescope. However, Hubble, famous for its incredible images of various parts of our galaxy, has no propellant that allows it to maintain its altitude indefinitely. The mission organized by SpaceX and NASA thus aims to extend Hubble’s expected lifetime is driven into another lane.
Currently located at 540 kilometers height above our heads, the Hubble, like any other machine in space, undergoes certain variations in orbit. If they are unaffected at the moment, over the years they would make the telescope useless even though dangerous. Aware of the risks, NASA has already planned to deorbit or dispose of its very expensive (in both senses of the word) telescope at the end of its mission, scheduled today for 2037. Driving it to a higher and therefore more stable altitude would allow Hubble to continue its space observation work. This increasingly realistic hypothesis had already been considered in 2009. During the last repair visit of the telescope by astronauts, the latter had attached a system to the outside of the Hubble to facilitate its docking with another spacecraft. That year was its height then 19 kilometers superior to the one that Hubble navigates today.
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Hubble at 32, but it does much less
Despite its problems with sometimes unstable altitudes and its slow (but sure) descent towards our atmosphere, the telescope developed by NASA and ESA in the 1980s is no less effective. This year, Hubble even captured incredible images that will undoubtedly go down in space observation history forever. From the birth of a supernova, to the bridge between two galaxies or by taking spectacular pictures of the Lagoon Nebula (photo at the top of the article), Hubble’s performance is incredible.