SpaceX, NASA look at launching Dragon to service Hubble Space Telescope - Space.com

SpaceX, NASA look at launching Dragon to service Hubble Space Telescope - Space.com

SpaceX, NASA look at launching Dragon to service Hubble Space Telescope - Space.com
Sep 30, 2022 1 min, 40 secs

Astronauts could visit the Hubble Space Telescope again someday, this time on a private spacecraft.

NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011, but a new era of Hubble servicing missions may be about to dawn.

The agency announced today (Sept. 29) that it's conducting a joint study with SpaceX to look into sending a Dragon capsule to Hubble, to boost the observatory's orbit and perhaps assist it in other ways as well.

Related: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions (photos).

And if benefiting Hubble means not just boosting it but also providing some servicing, and that can be done with a human spaceflight mission, all the better," Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer operations and integration at SpaceX, said during a press conference today.

The feasibility study might point planners toward an uncrewed mission, with Dragon or perhaps even a different type of vehicle.

If the feasibility study returns promising results, a Dragon mission to Hubble could launch sooner than you might think.

Indeed, there's already an architecture in place that could accommodate such a flight — the Polaris Program, a set of three SpaceX missions organized and led by billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who commanded the history-making Inspiration4 mission to Earth orbit last year.

— The best Hubble Space Telescope photos of all time.

Polaris will consist of three missions, the first of which, Polaris Dawn, will send Isaacman and three crewmates to orbit in a Dragon as early as March 2023.

That flight will feature the first-ever private spacewalk and send Dragon farther from Earth than any crewed mission has gotten since the Apollo era.

The second and third Polaris missions remain relatively undefined at the moment, though we know Polaris 2 will fly on a Dragon and Polaris 3 will employ Starship, the huge vehicle that SpaceX is developing to take people to the moon and Mars. .

"Certainly, the idea of boosting and servicing Hubble, should the feasibility study support it, would be, you know, a logical second mission," he said during today's briefing.

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