(ORDO NEWS) — The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space in 1990 and is still doing quite well with the tasks assigned to it.
For example, in the first half of this year, the device photographed a star aged 13 billion years – the picture taken can be viewed in this material.
However, completing tasks does not mean that a 30-year-old telescope is working perfectly. In recent years, it has begun to break down regularly, and its orbit is gradually declining.
Representatives of NASA hope that it will be able to work until 2030, after which it will be reduced to such an extent that it will partially burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere and fall to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
But in the future, the plans of the aerospace agency may change, because SpaceX intends to help with the repair of the telescope and raise its orbit.
If everything works out, the legendary device will be able to work for another 15-20 years.
At the moment, neither SpaceX nor NASA are confident that they will be able to carry out their plans. But on September 22, 2022, representatives signed an agreement that they would try to find out during the Polaris space program.
It was created by businessman and space tourist Jared Isaacman, who is better known to us as the commander of the Inspiration4 tourist crew.
Later this year, as part of one of the missions of the Polaris program, he and several other tourists plan to reach the highest point in low Earth orbit, go into outer space and test new spacesuits.
As part of future Polaris flights, SpaceX will evaluate the rendezvous and docking of the Dragon spacecraft with the Hubble Space Telescope.
It is hoped that during manned flights, astronauts will be able to repair broken parts of the research apparatus.
In addition, the spacecraft could try to raise the orbit of the Hubble telescope – it was originally at an altitude of 600 kilometers, but today it is located at an altitude of 540 kilometers.
If no one succeeds in lifting it, the telescope will indeed not work even for 10 years, and by 2030 it will have to be burned in Earth’s orbit.
But if the orbit is affected, Hubble will be able to work for about 20 more years.
The Hubble telescope was able to work for a record time precisely because of the possibility of repair. The first maintenance of the device was carried out in 1993, as part of the STS-61 mission.
A crew of seven flew to the telescope on the Endeavor and conducted five spacewalks in ten days.
For 35 hours of work, they managed to install corrective lenses on the device, which eliminated the defect of the built-in mirror.
If not for this mission, the Hubble Space Telescope would never have been able to take so many photographs.
The second maintenance of the Hubble telescope was carried out in February 1997, as part of the STS-82 mission.
A crew of seven NASA astronauts spent about 11 days in space and replaced several scientific instruments, thanks to which the telescope was able to study previously inaccessible space objects.
After that, several more repair missions were carried out – the last one for the current time is STS-125, carried out in May 2009.
During this mission, the astronauts replaced one of the night vision sensors and all of the gyroscopes, as well as installed new batteries and several other components.
As you can see, one of the biggest strengths of the Hubble telescope is that it can be repaired.
If SpaceX can actually help NASA fly to the research vehicle and replace its broken parts, this legendary telescope could indeed last a few more years, all the way to the 2040s.
By changing the components, astronauts will be able to improve its capabilities and make even more scientific discoveries.
In fairness, it should be noted that the Hubble telescope is much weaker than the new James Webb.
But the minus of the new device, again, is the impossibility of repairing it – it is located at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth, so it is very difficult to fly to it.
But, despite this, he will also work for a long time, about 10 years or even more.
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