NASA Extends Hubble Space Telescope Contract For Five More Years

Hubble

NASA has awarded a five year contract extension for the Hubble Space Telescope extending the science operations from July 1 to June 30, 2021. "[NASA] awarded a sole source contract extension Thursday to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for continued Hubble science operations support at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore," according to a NASA blog post regarding the new contract.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990 and was expected to have a lifespan of 15 years. The telescope has overachieved all of its original expectations and therefore has been an awarded the contract extension allowing its continuation. According to NASA, "the contract value will increase by approximately $196.3 million for a total contract value $2.03 billion." The support outlined in the new contract will include "the products and services required to execute science system engineering, science ground system development, science operations, science research, grants management and public outreach support for Hubble and data archive support missions in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes."

The service mission to the shuttle in 2009 was expected to be the last, but because it far exceeded expectations, the Telescope will be in operation far beyond what was originally planned. "After the final space shuttle servicing mission to the telescope in 2009, Hubble is better than ever. Hubble is expected to continue to provide valuable data into the 2020's, securing its place in history as an outstanding general purpose observatory in areas ranging from our solar system to the distant universe."

The Hubble Space Telescope will operate alongside the James Webb Space Telescope slated for launch in 2018. "In 2018, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into space as the premier observatory of the next decade, serving astronomers worldwide to build on Hubble's legacy of discovery and help unlock some of the biggest mysteries of the universe."

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We look forward to learning some of these 'mysteries of the universe' that the Hubble Space Telescope will help discover in the years to come.