WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX signed an unfunded Area Act Settlement Thursday, Sept. 22, to check the feasibility of a SpaceX and Polaris Program thought to spice up the company’s Hubble Area Telescope into the next orbit with the Dragon spacecraft, without charge to the federal government.
There are not any plans for NASA to conduct or fund a servicing mission or compete this chance; the examine is designed to assist the company perceive the business prospects.
SpaceX – in partnership with the Polaris Program – proposed this examine to higher perceive the technical challenges related to servicing missions. This examine is non-exclusive, and different corporations might suggest comparable research with totally different rockets or spacecraft as their mannequin.
Groups count on the examine to take as much as six months, gathering technical knowledge from each Hubble and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This knowledge will assist decide whether or not it could be potential to securely rendezvous, dock, and transfer the telescope right into a extra steady orbit.
“This examine is an thrilling instance of the modern approaches NASA is exploring by private-public partnerships,” mentioned Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “As our fleet grows, we need to discover a variety of alternatives to help probably the most sturdy, superlative science missions potential.”
Whereas Hubble and Dragon will function check fashions for this examine, parts of the mission idea could also be relevant to different spacecraft, significantly these in near-Earth orbit like Hubble.
Hubble has been working since 1990, about 335 miles above Earth in an orbit that’s slowly decaying over time. Reboosting Hubble into the next, extra steady orbit might add a number of years of operations to its life.
On the finish of its lifetime, NASA plans to securely de-orbit or eliminate Hubble.
“SpaceX and the Polaris Program need to broaden the boundaries of present expertise and discover how business partnerships can creatively resolve difficult, complicated issues,” mentioned Jessica Jensen, vice chairman of Buyer Operations & Integration at SpaceX. “Missions resembling servicing Hubble would assist us broaden area capabilities to in the end assist all of us obtain our targets of turning into a space-faring, multiplanetary civilization.”
The Hubble Area Telescope is a challenge of worldwide cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Area Company). NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Area Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Affiliation of Universities for Analysis in Astronomy in Washington.
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