We know more about the agreement signed at the end of September between SpaceX and NASA on the future of the Hubble telescope. According to the American space agency, it is a SpaceX “Dragon” spacecraft which should propel the Hubble telescope into a higher orbit, thus extending, de facto, the initial mission of NASA’s toy.
SpaceX and NASA recently presented a new project intended to extend the mission and life of the Hubble Telescope. Famous for its amazing shots of different parts of our galaxy, however, Hubble has no propellant enabling it to maintain its altitude indefinitely. The mission co-organized by SpaceX and NASA thus aims to extend Hubble’s life expectancy by propelling into another orbit.
Currently located at 540 kilometers altitude above our heads, Hubble undergoes, like any other machine in space, certain variations in orbit. If they are without impact for the moment, over the years they would make the telescope unusable even dangerous. Aware of the risks, NASA has already planned to deorbit or dispose of its very expensive (in both senses of the word) telescope at the end of its mission, scheduled today for 2037. Propelling it to a higher and therefore more stable altitude would allow Hubble to continue its space observation work. This increasingly realistic hypothesis had already been considered in 2009. During the last repair visit to the telescope by astronauts, the latter had attached a system to the exterior of Hubble to facilitate its docking with another space vehicle. That year, its altitude was then 19 kilometers superior to the one on which Hubble navigates today.
Hubble at 32, but it does a lot less
Despite its problems of sometimes unstable altitude and its slow (but certain) descent towards our atmosphere, the telescope developed by NASA and ESA in the 1980s is no less efficient. This year, Hubble even captured incredible images that will undoubtedly go down in the history of space observation forever. From the birth of a supernova, to bridge between two galaxiesor by taking spectacular shots of the Lagoon Nebula (photo at the top of the article), Hubble’s performance is incredible.
Source : nasa.gov