Astroscale and Momentus Pitch NASA on Joint Mission to Reboost Hubble Telescope
Astroscale and Momentus have teamed up to pitch NASA on a mission to reboost the Hubble Telescope, the companies announced last week.
The mission concept would use a Momentus Vigoride orbital service vehicle (OSV) with Astroscale’s RPOD — rendezvous, proximity operations and docking — technology built in. Describing the mission, the companies said Astroscale’s RPOD technology would approach and robotically capture the telescope, and then the OSV would boost the Hubble by 50 km. The spacecraft would also remove any surrounding debris in the new orbit after the primary mission is completed.
This proposal comes after NASA put out a request for information for commercial capabilities to reboost the telescope in December. The agency also has an unfunded and non-exclusive Space Act Agreement with SpaceX in place to study using the Dragon crew spacecraft to perform the same function.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990 and is still operational. NASA said its current altitude is approximately 540 km and its expected to reach 500 km in approximately 2025, which would make rendezvous more difficult. NASA said the telescope will likely reenter the atmosphere in the mid 2030s unless it is reboosted to a higher orbit.
“The Hubble’s need for a reboost should be an important wake-up call as to why the space industry needs dynamic and responsive in-space infrastructure,” said Ron Lopez, president and managing director of Astroscale U.S. “What we’ve proposed to NASA are options — options that were not available during the five previous crewed servicing missions and that leverage the best of in-space servicing to achieve mission objectives.”