Last week, NASA announced the transition of the Hubble telescope to safe mode. This was due to problems with one of the gyroscopes on the spacecraft. Billionaire Jared Isaacman reacted to the news by calling on NASA to approve a private expedition to the telescope.
Hubble Telescope Problems
The Hubble telescope has been in space since 1990. During this time, NASA has sent a number of maintenance missions to it, which have changed faulty components and installed more advanced scientific instruments. The last such expedition took place in 2009.
Despite the fact that the results of the final maintenance mission far exceeded all expectations, nearly 15 years have passed since then. Hubble has already failed three out of six gyroscopes. In addition, the telescope’s orbit is gradually decreasing, which is noticeably affected by an increase in solar activity.
Private individuals rush to the rescue
After the “retirement” of the shuttles, NASA had no funds left at its disposal to repair and raise the Hubble orbit. But this does not mean that the telescope is doomed. Over the past few years, a number of representatives of the space industry have come up with a proposal to help the telescope. One of them is billionaire Jared Isaacman. He funds the private Polaris research program, which is supposed to carry out at least three manned space flights. The first of them is scheduled for spring 2024. It is planned to carry out the first private spacewalk and break the altitude record set by the Gemini 11 mission.
Back in 2022, Isaacman proposed sending a second Polaris mission to Hubble to raise its orbit. After the publication of news about the technical problems of the telescope, he again announced his proposal. Isaacman pointed out that such a mission would give Hubble a decade of extra life and provide an opportunity in the future to remove the telescope from orbit using Starship and deliver it to Earth for placement in a museum. He also raised the possibility of repairing the telescope. He has pointed out that it is possible, and modern gyroscopes and computers “are no longer the size of a refrigerator.”
At the same time, not all experts share Isaacman’s enthusiasm for the possibility of repairing Hubble, pointing out that Crew Dragon has neither an airlock nor a manipulator arm. In addition, although the mission is funded by the billionaire’s own funds, NASA will still have to spend time and resources on its preparation and support. This may become a problem because the organization is considering the possibility of reducing costs for Hubble due to current budget constraints.
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