NASA has to decide. It is not easy to reach a conclusion as to what they should do with the Hubble Space Telescope, taking into account the fact that it has already been in orbit for more than 33 years. Because of this they are considering different proposals. The last one they receive is offered by two startups, Astroscale and Momentus, whose plans include an operation that guarantees Hubble’s survival and, in addition, a clean-up operation.
Offers are accepted
It was made public in December 2022 that NASA had an offer on the SpaceX table, however, that didn’t stop other professionals in the field from submitting their ideas. That’s why the people responsible for Momentus and Astroscale worked against the clock to contact the space agency in the shortest possible time.
What SpaceX wants to do is get Hubble into a higher orbit that will allow the telescope to continue in space to do its job. However, no funding or final approval has been received yet, so options are open. The finality of the project of these startups cannot be ruled out, although it can be assured that it is one of them that has made the biggest impression among NASA experts.
However, it’s not easy
Both Astroscale and Momentus have a wealth of experience when it comes to space. The problem is that they have not got the necessary resources to complete their projects. Recently, for example, it was published that Momentus was going through a dire economic situation. Probably for this reason, in view of their difficulties, they decided to present their project to NASA in collaboration with Astroscale.
But the people in charge of both startups are confident in their ideas and their ability to make their plans a reality. The combined technology from the two startups will be what will give Hubble the boost it needs and, at the same time, clean up space junk. Momentus has a space tug known as Vigoride which, although it has encountered some difficulties, is believed to be ready for this important mission. The plan would be to launch it into space and when it gets to the right area, use the Momentum system to do its job.
If all goes well, the process will go like this. The Vigoride tugboat will be launched first. As long as it is in position relative to Hubble, the Momentus technique will be used. The intention would be to move the telescope up to 50 kilometers in its orbit to reach a new position. At that point, Vigoride will take advantage of the fact that it is already in space to clean up space debris that was orbiting the telescope.
And although the plan sounds good, has a good foundation and the technology that will be used is trusted by NASA and some of the leading experts in the field, the problem right now is timing. And, derived from time, money. Momentus’ monthly expenses are around $8 million per month and they only have a cash register of $40 million. Although they enjoy some income, the accounts are complicated. This scares them whether they will be able to execute the project or not as it is something that needs a lot of preparation.
Why is the decision on Hubble so important to NASA? Because, as stated in some of the best space series, forecasts show that if nothing is done, there is a 50% chance that the telescope will fall to Earth in the year 2037. Time is pressing.