Astroscale and Momentus are bidding to extend the life of the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. The two companies recently responded to NASA’s Hubble Reboost RFI in a joint proposal. The mission’s objectives include safe relocation of Hubble and removal of nearby threatening debris from the celebrated space telescope’s new orbit.
Astroscale U.S. is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Astroscale Holdings Inc.
NASA has been talking to SpaceX and Inspiration/Polaris Jared Isaacman about a manned mission to boost Hubble.
The Polaris Program is a planned human spaceflight program organized by businessman and commercial astronaut Jared Isaacman.Isaacman, who commanded the first all-civilian Inspiration4 spaceflight in September 2021, purchased flights from SpaceX in order to create the Polaris Program. The first two flights will use the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, while the third flight is planned to be the first crewed Starship flight. Polaris Dawn, the first flight, will attempt the first private spacewalk.
NASA and SpaceX signed in September 2022 with the Polaris program an unfunded Space Act Agreement to study the feasibility of a SpaceX and Polaris Program mission to boost the Hubble Space Telescope into a higher orbit with the Crew Dragon.
Japan’s Astroscale U.S. Inc., is a private orbital debris removal company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The company is developing satellite end-of-life and active debris removal services to mitigate the growing and hazardous buildup of debris in space. Momentus Inc. (NASDAQ: MNTS), has flown a high thrust but more efficient microwave propulsion system.
The proposed mission is a commercial solution to extend the life of a still useful space telescope without risk to humans. It would use a Momentus Vigoride Orbital Service Vehicle (OSV) to low-Earth orbit on a small launch vehicle. Once on orbit, Astroscale’s RPOD technology built into the OSV would be used to safely rendezvous, approach and then complete a robotic capture of the telescope. Once mated, the OSV would perform a series of maneuvers to raise the Hubble by 50 km. Removal of surrounding and threatening space debris in Hubble’s new orbit using the Vigoride and Astroscale’s RPOD capabilities will be prioritized after the completion of the primary reboost mission.
Momentus is short of cash and its company publicly traded value has dropped from $1.5 billion to $38 million. Astroscale has had nearly $400 million in funding. Mitsubishi gave Astroscale a $76 million funding in February 2023.
“Leveraging Momentus’ flight heritage with three orbital service vehicles on-orbit today and Astroscale’s expertise in RPOD (rendezvous, proximity operations and docking), we found our product suites to be synergistic in support of a major NASA mission,” said John Rood, Momentus Chief Executive Officer. “Even at 33, Hubble is fully capable of continuing its mission; where it is aging is in its orbital stability. I am thrilled that we collaborated to offer NASA a very cost-effective way to continue to operate this billion-dollar scientific investment by leveraging new robotic in-space servicing technology.”
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