NASA and SpaceX are working on a study that could lead to new missions to restore Hubble’s orbit. The space telescope has been running since 1990. Throughout its over 30 years of service, Hubble has received five servicing missions designed to help boost the telescope’s orbit and keep it working at optimum levels. The last service mission, though, was in 2009.
With over ten years of orbiting without servicing, Hubble has undoubtedly fallen from its peak in Earth’s orbit. That’s not to mention any number of issues that might need to be looked into with the telescope’s various mechanics. A servicing run to restore Hubble’s orbit and keep things running smoothly isn’t a terrible idea.
NASA and SpaceX officials discussed the upcoming study on how to restore Hubble’s orbit during a teleconference call on September 29, 2022. According to the call, the two agencies will work together to look into the potential of using one of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to boost Hubble’s orbit. This would allow it to continue working for more years to come.
And, if that mission was a success, though, it’s possible NASA and SpaceX could start planning other missions to keep restoring Hubble’s orbit so the telescope can run for years alongside James Webb. The briefing involved the following officials, according to Space.com.
- Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
- Kathy Lueders, associate administrator with NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate
- Patrick Crouse, Hubble Space Telescope project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
- Jared Isaacman, a commercial astronaut and commander of Polaris Dawn
- Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration at SpaceX
Keeping Hubble’s orbit stable and the telescope running will only be a boon in the long run, as James Webb and Hubble are designed to see the universe in different ways. Based on the people involved, it’s possible that the upcoming Polaris Dawn missions could play a part in this new attempt to restore Hubble’s orbit.
Unfortunately, for now, we’ll need to wait and see how the study pans out.