June 19, 2024
News

NASA Declines Random Billionaires Interfering with the Hubble Space Telescope

Billionaires are currently captivated by space exploration. Elon Musk of SpaceX, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, and even Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic are all investing in rocket technology to venture into space. However, one billionaire is not content with just observing space; he wants to physically interact with it, specifically, with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Jared Isaacman, an individual who previously developed a payment processing platform, has pledged to financially support NASA for a maintenance mission to the Hubble. While Isaacman does not own a space enterprise himself, he is willing to fund a SpaceX mission to service the aging and problematic orbital telescope. However, there is a hitch, as reported by NPR: NASA harbors concerns that Isaacman’s involvement may pose risks rather than benefits.

Internal communications within NASA, acquired by NPR through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal that seasoned Hubble experts were consulted about a year ago and expressed apprehensions regarding the proposed course of action.

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In an ideal scenario, a successful private mission could enhance Hubble’s capability to observe celestial bodies and potentially prolong its operational life by several years.

Conversely, in a worst-case scenario, an incident could result in irreparable damage to the multibillion-dollar telescope or even worse, endanger the lives of astronauts involved in its repair.

Isaacman, however, appears undeterred by the perceived risks. He believes that NASA’s objections—although they have not definitively rejected the proposal—are primarily aimed at regulating access to space. As per NPR:

“Historically, only a select few have ever interacted with Hubble. I believe these select few have strong opinions on who should or should not have the privilege,” Isaacman stated. “Many would likely prefer its demise over the perceived risks of expanding access to the space domain. This, unfortunately, seems to be a current influencing factor.”

NASA is traditionally vested in maintaining authority over space activities and limiting external involvement. This is evident in their collaborations with various institutions to foster enthusiasm for space exploration, which subtly serves as a deterrent for unauthorized space endeavors. It’s a strategic move to maintain dominance in the realm of space exploration.

Despite lacking a scientific background, Isaacman aspires to be among the first non-professionals to engage in a spacewalk utilizing SpaceX’s forthcoming EVA suit (although it has not been tested in space yet). Additionally, he oversees a company that manages and operates a private fleet of military aircraft. The notion that an individual can own and operate around “150 tactical fighter aircraft” without any form of oversight is indeed unsettling.

NASA has yet to decide on permitting a potentially contentious individual to carry out operations on the Hubble. The agency is treating the proposition with utmost seriousness. If an untested spacewalk could enhance the telescope’s functionality, it would be a significant advancement for astronomers globally, even though the risk involves potentially encountering our own Hank Scorpio.

FAQ

Q: Why is NASA hesitant about Jared Isaacman’s proposal?

A: NASA is concerned about the potential risks involved in allowing an inexperienced individual to conduct operations on the Hubble Space Telescope, which is a crucial piece of scientific equipment.

Q: What is Jared Isaacman’s background in space exploration?

A: Despite not having a scientific background, Jared Isaacman is eager to participate in a spacewalk using SpaceX’s upcoming EVA suit.

Conclusion

While the debate continues over whether Jared Isaacman should be allowed to engage with the Hubble Space Telescope, it highlights the ongoing struggle between private interests and established space agencies like NASA. The outcome of this deliberation could shape the future of space exploration and the involvement of nontraditional actors in space activities.

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