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The billionaire wants to save the Hubble Telescope — and NASA appears to have concerns

The billionaire wants to save the Hubble Telescope — and NASA appears to have concerns

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It's like a “tin can” in space: The Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting the Earth since 1990 at an altitude of about 550 kilometers. (File photo) © NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope can no longer be repaired. A private space mission could change that, but NASA is skeptical.

Washington, DC – The Hubble Telescope is perhaps the most famous space telescope in the world. Everyone has probably seen his amazing photos from space before. Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has not only sent back many stunning images to Earth, but also countless data. They helped researchers better understand the universe and continue to aid space exploration today.

But Hubble's lifespan is limited. Due to atmospheric friction, the telescope's orbit around Earth continues to decrease – and experts expect the roughly bus-sized space probe to break down by the 2030s at the latest. Since the space shuttle was grounded in 2011, there has been no way to repair the space telescope or increase its trajectory. But this may change: As early as December 2022, the American space organization NASA announced that the private space company SpaceX is conducting a studyHow can the flight altitude of a telescope be increased?

Billionaire Jared Isaacman wants to save NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

It later emerged that billionaire Jared Isaacman was thinking of using his space program called “Polaris Dawn” to save the Hubble Telescope for NASA. In 2021, Isaacman and three other ordinary people carried out a multi-day space mission aboard the SpaceX “Crew Dragon” space capsule and then purchased more flights into space – the “Polaris Dawn” program. The program's first launch is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, and Isaacman's team is also planning its first private exit into space. SpaceX recently introduced special spacesuits for this purpose.

It is also possible that the Hubble rescue mission will take place within the Polaris Dawn program. But it seems that NASA is not convinced yet. According to what was reported by the American NPR radioInternal NASA emails show that the US space agency is somewhat skeptical about the proposal. Although it can save you a lot of money.

NASA has concerns about SpaceX spacewalks using the Hubble Telescope

The biggest concerns seem to be about spacewalking, after all, no astronaut has ever exited a Crew Dragon capsule. At a recent press conference about the first commercial spacewalk, Isaacman explained that the counterarguments are always about the risks of spacewalks. “This risk will certainly be accepted,” he stressed, adding that his group will certainly continue private spacewalks, and NASA should take advantage of that. “I would say that makes more than sense. It's pretty obvious to do,” Isaacman said.

NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time in 2009. (File photo)
NASA astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time in 2009. (File photo) © Imago/NASA

In January, Isaacman spoke On X (Formerly Twitter) He explained that the clock is ticking: “With Hubble’s orbit shrinking, there is only a limited amount of time to plan, train, and fly the mission. “I’m a little concerned that time is running out on this game,” the billionaire wrote. “Regarding the crew,” the billionaire wrote. , we bring together the people who will give the mission the best chance of success. I'm just worried that at this rate there may not be any Hubble left to save. “Two startups also want to save Hubble.

NASA knows what it's like for astronauts to die on the job

Even if at first glance it seems that NASA's lack of conviction about the idea is illogical, the concerns cannot be ignored. After all, the space agency knows what it means for astronauts to die on the job. The Columbia and Challenger space shuttle accidents are deeply engraved in the agency's DNA. Even during a spacewalk, things don't always go smoothly NASA study shows. Accordingly, there would have been “major misses” or “misses” in 22% of spacewalks between 1965 and 2019.

The risk of the Hubble Space Telescope being damaged during the process is also real. In the coming years – at least until 2030 – experts expect good data from Hubble. Damage to the telescope could compromise this data. (unpaid bill)