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A billionaire offers to renovate the Hubble Space Telescope, but NASA fears he will destroy it completely

A billionaire offers to renovate the Hubble Space Telescope, but NASA fears he will destroy it completely

The Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting Earth for 34 years, and has since served science with countless important measurements and beautiful space images for amateur astronomers and the general public. The space telescope is now considered quite obsolete, because it used high-tech technology from the early 1990s, and its successor, the Webb Space Telescope, equipped with more powerful instruments, began operating a few years ago. The Hubble is still working, but it's not as reliable anymore — among other things, because astronaut technicians haven't visited it for a long time to perform maintenance. Hubble has undergone a total of five such generals, and the last such mission was launched by the US space agency in 2009 with Atlantis, a member of the space shuttle fleet that has since been retired.

NASA no longer plans such missions — it won't have any, since there are no space shuttles — so the Hubble's fate is expected to be one of gravity pulling it closer and closer to Earth, where, according to current calculations, it will end up in the atmosphere in 2034.

American billionaire Jared Isaacman, who got rich with online payment solutions, wants to prevent this, and takes his hobby, flying, so seriously that he participated in SpaceX's first commercial spaceflight in 2021. Isaacman has offered NASA to use his own money to send a maintenance mission To Hubble, in which he will of course participate. He will bear all costs, and NASA will only have to provide professional assistance for training and give permission for the whole thing. The space agency did not answer for a long time, or gave an evasive answer, or took its time, and now, NPR From the documents submitted or obtained

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Although it wouldn't cost NASA anything, in principle, there's significant debate within the space agency about whether the Isaacman mission would be able to recover the space telescope, or whether it would just put Hubble and themselves at risk. The question is certainly legitimate, since SpaceX's spacecraft don't have a manipulator like the space shuttles, and they've never directly tested their spacesuits for spacewalks either. The big dilemma NASA faces now is whether to contribute to a mission that could damage the multibillion-dollar space telescope and endanger the astronauts themselves — or forego the possibility of someone spending hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money. On something they no longer want to spend taxpayer money on.

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