NASA and SpaceX, the American space shuttle and rocket manufacturer, will consider sending a team into space to extend the operational life of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was sent into space in 1990.
According to BBC, Hubble, which has pioneered scientific research and observations with the data it has provided for more than 30 years, is nearing the end of its life.
The telescope, which was last serviced by astronauts carried by NASA’s space shuttle in 2009, will burn up in the atmosphere unless the necessary maintenance is carried out.
The telescope, which was placed in orbit 600 kilometers above the ground when it was launched in 1990, has descended 25 kilometers since 2009.
NASA and SpaceX have announced that they will collaborate on how to send a team into space to place the Hubble telescope, currently 540 kilometers above Earth, in the same orbit as when it was first launched and to repair and upgrade the telescope.
NASA Science Director Thomas Zurbuchen said, “I want to be absolutely clear, we’re not announcing a date, we’re certainly not announcing that we’re going to move forward with a plan like this. But we want to do a study to see what is really doable.”
Currently, SpaceX carries astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the Dragon capsule.
But experts say the Hubble mission could take a different path.
SpaceX’s Jessica Jensen said that the telescope is a different vehicle in terms of its orbit and weight, and that the journey to the telescope is slightly different from space travel to the ISS.
Scientists say the “retaining ring” that was installed in 2009 for the controlled disposal of Hubble in the South Pacific Ocean could be used to dock the Dragon capsule to the telescope so that Hubble can be pulled up.