Hubble: SpaceX to the Rescue

Image (Credit): The Hubble Space Telescope orbiting Earth. (

The Washington Post reports that NASA and SpaceX are looking into the idea of extending the life of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which has already been in service more than 30 years. The space telescope’s orbit has been deteriorating since 2009, when it was last visited for repairs. The current orbit should be okay until the mid-2030s, and then it will fall to Earth.

To keep the Hubble in service for even more years, it would need to be pushed into a higher orbit. This is where SpaceX comes in. It can assist NASA by moving Hubble just 40 miles higher in order to get another 15 to 20 years out of the space telescope.

The article notes that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was not developed to replace Hubble but rather to complement it. Hence, the extra life for Hubble means more and better astronomical observations over additional years in conjunction with the JWST. For instance, we will get more shots like the one below where the Hubble captured the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission before and after it struck the asteroid.

Update: I have also included the JWST DART image below just to show the two space telescopes can work in tandem.

Image (Credit): This animated GIF combines three of the images NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured after NASA’s DART spacecraft intentionally impacted Dimorphos, a moonlet asteroid in the double asteroid system of Didymos. The animation spans from 22 minutes after impact to 8.2 hours after the collision took place. As a result of the impact, the brightness of the Didymos-Dimorphos system increased by 3 times. The brightness also appears to hold fairly steady, even eight hours after impact. (NASA, ESA, Jian-Yang Li (PSI); animation: Alyssa Pagan (STScI))
Image (Credit): This animation gif is a timelapse of images from NASA’s JWST. It covers the time spanning just before impact at 7:14 p.m. EDT, Sept. 26, through 5 hours post-impact. Plumes of material from a compact core appear as wisps streaming away from where the impact took place. An area of rapid, extreme brightening is also visible in the animation. (NASA, ESA, CSA, Cristina Thomas (Northern Arizona University), Ian Wong (NASA-GSFC); Joseph DePasquale (STScI))