PC: TechCrunch

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is working with SpaceX and billionaire astronaut Jared Isaacman to see whether a private mission could prolong the life of the renowned Hubble telescope.

Elon Musk’s business and the Polaris Program, which is overseen by Isaacman, and NASA signed a contract on Thursday to examine the potential use of a SpaceX spacecraft to dock with the observatory and modify its orbit in an effort to extend its lifetime.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the director of science at NASA, stated during a press conference that SpaceX approached NASA with the concept “a few months ago.”

According to Zurbuchen, “Hubble is extraordinarily successful – it’s healthy, and it’s performing fantastic science right now.”

Based on the Hubble telescope’s ongoing orbital fall, NASA anticipates that it will be retired before the end of this decade. The agency claims that the spacecraft is stabilised by three gyroscopes. NASA projects that Hubble may continue to function for an additional 15 to 20 years if it were relocated to a higher altitude, nearer to where it started its stay in orbit.

Because of the enormous importance that this research asset has for both ourselves and other people, it is entirely legitimate for us to examine this, according to Zurbuchen.

According to Zurbuchen, there is no “money transfer” involved in the deal between NASA and SpaceX, and SpaceX is paying for their own involvement.

NASA will gather technical data from Hubble over the study’s six-month duration as SpaceX considers how its Crew Dragon capsule could dock with the telescope and what adjustments, if any, would be necessary.

Isaacman, the creator of the payments company Shift4, participated in the first private SpaceX journey to orbit last year and bought three additional flights from Polaris, Elon Musk’s business.

While Isaacman acknowledged that the study did not preclude a mission to Hubble, he said that such a journey “absolutely fits within the parameters we outlined for the Polaris Program.”

The exploration asset known as Hubble is arguably one of the best ever, according to Isaacman, who also noted that “this work has broad relevance.”

Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble, which was launched more than 30 years ago and is still in use today, to make a number of discoveries over the years. Notably, NASA sent astronauts on five separate voyages to the space station to replace and repair intricate spaceship components.

Aboard March, Isaacman will once again command a crew of four into orbit on the program’s inaugural mission, Polaris Dawn. The crew will go to orbit in a Crew Dragon capsule. The third mission, which would be the Starship rocket’s first crewed launch, is anticipated to be the program’s pinnacle.

The Polaris Dawn project has three goals, according to Isaacman, which are to use Starlink internet satellites for communication, execute a spacewalk outside of the Dragon spacecraft, and achieve the highest orbit above Earth ever flown by humans.

The Polaris Dawn crew is currently preparing for launch by practising with fighter jets from Isaacman’s personal fleet. CNBC just joined Isaacman to witness this process.