Can SpaceX Save the Hubble Space Telescope from Falling to Earth?

The Hubble Space Telescope is in danger of falling to Earth, but SpaceX wants to save it by placing it in a higher, more stable orbit.

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most iconic instruments in the history of astronomy. Since its launch in 1990, it has provided spectacular images and revolutionized our understanding of the universe. But now, after more than three decades in orbit, Hubble is in jeopardy, as it is slowly approaching Earth and could fall back into Earth’s atmosphere in the next decade. However, there is a possible solution to save Hubble and extend its lifespan, and that solution could come from SpaceX .

In this article, we’ll explore how SpaceX could save the Hubble Space Telescope, what plans NASA and the private space agency have for the telescope’s future, and what implications it would have for astronomy and space exploration if Hubble were saved.

What is the Hubble Space Telescope and why is it important?

The Hubble Space Telescope is a telescope that orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 550 km. It was launched into space in 1990 and has provided some of the most spectacular images in modern astronomy. Since its launch, Hubble has carried out more than 1.5 million observations and has made important discoveries, such as the accelerating expansion of the universe and the existence of supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.

Hubble is important because it has allowed us to see beyond what we can see with ground-based telescopes. Being located outside of Earth’s atmosphere, it can see fainter, more distant objects much more clearly. It has also allowed astronomers to study the universe at different wavelengths, leading to discoveries in areas such as star and planet formation, the composition of the universe, and the search for life on other planets.

Why is Hubble in danger?

Despite its importance in astronomy, the Hubble Space Telescope is endangered due to its age and the nature of its orbit. Hubble has been in orbit for more than three decades and has undergone multiple repairs and upgrades by astronauts on maintenance missions. However, these repairs cannot last forever, and Hubble has suffered several failures in recent years.

Also, Hubble’s orbit is low and it is slowly approaching Earth due to friction with the upper atmosphere. Hubble currently orbits at an altitude of about 550 km, but is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the mid to late 2030s. To prevent the telescope from falling out of control, NASA will have to remove it deliberately out of orbit in the coming years.

How could SpaceX save Hubble?

Although the future is uncertain, SpaceX could help save the Hubble telescope by providing a means for its repair or replacement. The company has demonstrated an impressive ability to carry payloads into space and to perform precise docking maneuvers, which would be essential to carry out a Hubble rescue mission.

One possibility would be to send a team of NASA astronauts aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to perform on-site repairs, if it is determined to be possible and safe. Alternatively, SpaceX could collaborate with NASA to build and launch a replacement for the Hubble telescope, as a new next-generation space telescope.

Another option would be to use SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to launch a repair mission that includes a service craft and specialized repair astronauts. The service craft could be equipped with a work platform and special tools to carry out Hubble repairs.

In any case, a Hubble rescue mission would require close and careful collaboration between SpaceX and NASA, and would likely take years of planning and development before it could take place. However, with the talent and technology available, it is not impossible that SpaceX could play a significant role in preserving one of the most important instruments in modern astronomy.

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