Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to fund a study with NASA to examine ways to use the space company’s Dragon capsule to raise the Hubble Space Tele-scope’s orbital altitude, which would extend its useful life, agency officials announced on Thursday.
SpaceX, whose Crew Dragon capsule ferries as-tronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station for NASA, will fully fund the six-month study, NASA’s science chief Thomas Zur-buchen told reporters during a short-notice press conference.
“A few months ago SpaceX approached NASA with the idea for a study of how a commercial crew could help boost our Hubble spacecraft into a higher orbit, that would extend its observational lifetime.”
The Hubble Space Telescope has been a work-horse cosmic observatory for astronomers around the world since its launch in 1990, delivering dramatic stellar imagery and enabling important discoveries such as the age of the universe and the moons of Pluto.
NASA said teams will collect data to “help de-termine whether it would be possible to safely ren-dezvous, dock, and move the telescope into a more stable orbit.”—Agencies