Retirement is delayed. SpaceX and NASA plan to extend the life of the Hubble telescope
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NASA announced possible plans to use SpaceX commercial flights to extend the life of the telescope.
On September 29, a joint press conference was held between the heads of NASA and SpaceX, which was attended by the heads of the Hubble Space Telescope project, as well as the famous space tourist, billionaire Jared Isaacman. During a conversation with reporters, NASA representatives announced that they are considering the possibility of using commercial space flights for scientific missions. In particular, this concerns the maintenance of the Hubble telescope, writes Space.
At a press conference on NASA's future collaboration with SpaceX, it was suggested that scientists are doing the necessary calculations in order to use the Dragon spacecraft to deliver astronauts to the Hubble telescope. With this possible mission, it will be possible to change the orbit of the telescope, that is, to raise the observatory a little higher, as well as to make the necessary improvements to its instruments.
NASA did not disclose any specific details of a possible upcoming manned mission to the Hubble telescope. But the presence at the briefing of space tourist, billionaire Jared Isaacman, who will become the commander of the new commercial SpaceX Polaris Dawn mission, may indicate that the flight to the telescope will still take place.
“The new Webb Space Telescope is already working in space, but the Hubble telescope has not lost its value. Perhaps it needs to be extended . That's an interesting idea,” Isaacman said.
The Hubble telescope is already 32 years old, and it continues its work in space, not least due to the fact that NASA has already sent astronauts to it 5 times for repairs and upgrades. The first such flight took place in 1993, and the last one to date was in 2009.
Therefore, if the Hubble telescope is still so important for science, then it's time to think about a new repair mission. Moreover, last year the telescope had significant problems with its instruments and there was a threat of stopping its work. Focus has already written about how NASA dealt with the problems.
As for SpaceX's new Polaris Dawn mission, that flight is scheduled for March 2023 and Jared Isaacman and three other crew members will be aboard the Dragon spacecraft. Space tourists will rise to a height of 1400 km and not a single astronaut has been so far from the Earth in the last 50 years. Another important point worth mentioning. During this mission, which will last 5 days, the first-ever exit of a non-professional astronaut into outer space should take place. And this astronaut should be Isaacman.
For the American billionaire, this will already be the second flight into space, after the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission in September 2021. Focus already wrote about this flight, which lasted 3 days. The publication Futurism suggests that it is possible during a spacewalk that Isaacman will carry out some manipulations with the Hubble telescope. Although it sounds very incredible, because he is neither a scientist nor an engineer. But on the other hand, there may indeed be a specialist on the Dragon ship who will carry out repair work on the Hubble telescope.
The lack of detailed information makes us only speculate about the upcoming joint mission between NASA and SpaceX. So far, it is known for sure that there will be three flights under the Polaris program.
As Focus already wrote, using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists were able to detect a protective shell of gas that surrounds two close to the Milky Way galaxy.