The life of the Hubble telescope could still be extended

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The life of the Hubble telescope could be further extended

The Hubble Space Telescope

NASA and SpaceX will study the feasibility of granting a mission to Elon Musk's company, the purpose of which would be to reposition the Hubble telescope to a higher orbit in order to x27;to increase its lifespan, the US space agency has announced.

The telescope, which has been operating since 1990 at some 540 kilometers above Earth, is seeing its orbit slowly degrade due to the atmospheric friction it still experiences, even at low levels.

Hubble has no means of propulsion on board, and its altitude had already been corrected in the past during American space shuttle missions.

The proposed new mission would see the use of SpaceX's Dragon rocket.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule during a mission to the International Space Station.

A few months ago, SpaceX contacted NASA with the idea of โ€‹โ€‹a study to see if a commercial crew could help boost Hubble, NASA chief science officer Thomas Zurbuchen told reporters, adding that the agency had accepted this study without it costing him anything financially.

The official stressed that there are currently no concrete plans to conduct or fund a mission until all potential technical challenges are better understood.

One โ€‹โ€‹of the main hurdles is the lack of a robotic arm on Dragon, unlike space shuttles, and would therefore need modification.

SpaceX came up with the idea in partnership with Polaris Program, a private spaceflight company.

Asked whether such a mission could be seen as a way to give wealthy people something to do in space, Thomas Zurbuchen said: I think it was very timely for us to consider (such a mission) because of the extraordinary value this research asset has for us, with reference to the Hubble Telescope.

Considered As one of the most important scientific instruments in history, Hubble continues to make important discoveries, including this year's detection of the most distant single star ever observed, Earendel, whose light took 12.9 billion years to reach us.

The telescope is currently scheduled to remain operational until the end of the decade, with an estimated 50% probability that it will lose orbit in 2037, said Patrick Crouse, the Hubble project manager.

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