UAE's First Lunar Mission Gets New Launch Date
28 november, 2022
NASA and SpaceX will evaluate the possibility of using Dragon spacecraft to maintain the Hubble telescope.
A SpaceX mission to Hubble is not currently in development. NASA and SpaceX are reviewing a feasibility study, which is expected to last six months and will not require money from NASA.
Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer operations and integration at SpaceX, said:
We're going to be looking at Dragon capabilities and how they would need to be modified in order to safely rendezvous and dock with Hubble. Details of exactly physically how that's done, and how we also safely do that from a trajectory point of view — that's all to be worked out.
Hubble continues to function and send informative pictures of the space. For example, it recently took pictures of the asteroid system Didymos shortly after NASA's DART probe deliberately crashed into one of its two constituent space rocks. However, atmospheric drag slightly reduced Hubble's orbital altitude.
The telescope is currently orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 540 km, about 60 km below its initial orbit. Under these conditions, there is a 50% chance that Hubble will fall back to Earth in 2037.
To prevent this, NASA plans to take Hubble out of orbit in a controlled manner after its observing days are over by launching a robotic mission to bring the telescope down safely. NASA plans to launch a reorbiting mission by the late 2020s. That said, if the telescope is returned to its original altitude of 373 miles (600 km), it could potentially allow the observatory to continue operating for many more years.