NASA And SpaceX To Breathe New Life Into Hubble Space Telescope

NASA And SpaceX To Breathe New Life Into Hubble Space Telescope

NASA will soon be joining forces with Elon Musk's SpaceX and the Polaris Program to understand the potential of taking the Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the help of a SpaceX vessel.


As per a recent NASA press release, the main aim of the study isn’t to change the telescope’s orbit, but to learn the possibilities of deploying low-orbit equipment like the Hubble Space Telescope.

SpaceX To Bear The Cost?

As of now, Hubble and SpaceX’s Dragon vessel are just a part of the hypothesis. It will take around six months to understand if it’s feasible to dock the telescope on the spacecraft, then send it to another orbit.

NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate associate administrator, Thomas Zurbuchen said the new study will be "an exciting example of the innovative approaches NASA is exploring through private-public partnerships." As per NASA’s release, the research was proposed by SpaceX and the Polaris Program and NASA will not be bearing the cost of it.

"As our fleet grows, we want to explore a wide range of opportunities to support the most robust, superlative science missions possible," Zurbuchen added.

Reviving The Legendary Hubble Telescope

NASA noted that its aim is to breathe new life into the legendary telescope that has been revolving around for more than 30 years, and its orbit is decaying with time. Since it embraced the skies, the telescope has beamed back some of the most historic space images ever captured.


However, the space observatory has also witnessed several part failures and servicing missions. In March of last year, the telescope went into safe mode after its software malfunctioned.

As of now, NASA has no plans to send another service mission to fix Hubble in the near future. As per the MIT Technology Review report, Hubble’s replacement called LUVOIR, won’t be ready for launch until 2039. Besides, countries including India and China are also expected to launch their telescopes within the next 10 years.

That said, the SpaceX-Polaris study could be NASA’s last chance to revive Hubble before it gets decommissioned.

Hubble Isn’t Done Yet

In August, Hubble Space Telescope Hubble Space Telescope snapped an incredible image of the Orion Nebula. ESA referred to the image as “celestial cloudspace,” the phenomenon is called a “Herbig-Haro object.” They are basically clouds surrounding a newly born star.

Orion Nebula is among the most studied objects in the universe due to its massive size which spans 24 light-years and also because it’s 1,000 light years from Earth, a relatively close distance in astronomical aspects. The nebula can even be seen by the naked eye from Earth.

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