SpaceX will study the feasibility of a
to send the
to extend its life.
This was announced Thursday by the US space agency.
The telescope, which has been operating
about 540 kilometers from Earth, is seeing its orbit slowly deteriorate due to atmospheric friction.
Hubble has no means of propulsion on board and its altitude had already been corrected in the past during the missions of the American Space Shuttle.
The proposed new mission would see the use of SpaceX's Dragon rocket.
The last maintenance mission for Hubble took place in
and the space telescope is still doing very well.
The end of its operation was scheduled by 2030, but now it is thought it could work even
so there is no fixed date for the Hubble retreat.
The telescope will continue to function as long as its components work and it provides a good service to the scientific community.
To do this, it must be
in orbit and
NASA's original plans to safely deorbit the Hubble were to bring it back to Earth using a Space Shuttle, to then be exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution.
This is no longer possible due to the withdrawal of the fleet, but it would have been unlikely given the cost of the mission and the risks for the crew, preferring the hypothesis of adding an additional propulsion module to allow a controlled reentry.
2017 , the
considered a proposal from
Sierra Nevada Corporation
to use a crewed version of the Dream Chaser to offer maintenance to the Hubble on occasion during the 2020s. Now it is
that offers a chance to the glorious telescope that, if the collaboration is successful, will be able to continue to scan the depths of space for a long time to come.