NASA wants a partnership with SpaceX to upgrade the Hubble Telescope and extend its lifespan

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In an unprecedented way, NASA plans to call on the private sector to intervene on the Hubble satellite, which is publicly owned. The American space agency announced on Thursday September 29 that it had asked SpaceX to study the feasibility of a mission to the telescope to extend its lifespan and send it to a higher orbit.

Until now, the only missions entrusted by NASA to the private sector concerned the international space station, in particular the routing of cargoes but also of astronauts. In these cases, the American company SpaceX is one of those who take care of it.

But Elon Musk’s company wants to go further. She herself proposed to NASA a mission to the famous Hubble telescope. The proposal has been half accepted by the space agency, which therefore asks SpaceX to conduct a feasibility study: it has 6 months to conduct it.

Launched in 1990 at an altitude of more than 500 kilometers, Hubble Since then, it has continued to descend little by little, according to its orbits, until the future scenario where it would rub sufficiently against the atmosphere and would be consumed there. Currently, the telescope is expected to remain operational until the end of the decade, with an estimated 50% chance that it will lose orbit in 2037, said Patrick Crouse, the Hubble project manager.

NASA therefore wants to know the feasibility of a mission, a priori with the Space X dragon capsule and private astronauts. This to reach the telescope and raise it. The operation could extend its life by several years, a precious time as Hubble remains an important instrument for astronomers.

In the longer term, NASA explains that this type of partnership will allow it to diversify its activity even more. The agency focuses mainly on its Mars and return to the Moon programs. This since it will then be able to subcontract part of its other missions to the private sector.

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