NASA Has Plans to Privatize One of the Observatories

As Spitzer Space Telescope is getting further away from earth, communication with the observatory is becoming increasingly difficult. While the observatory is still discovering surprising facts about our solar system as well as other stars, management of the telescope will be turned over to academic institution as the budget for the observatory is set to run out in 2019.

During a meeting earlier on Wednesday, NASA’s director of astrophysics division Paul Hertz said, “We are certainly open to a partnership proposal from any U.S. institution that would like to operate Spitzer on non-NASA funding beyond the NASA-funded mission, and I’ve heard there are people discussing this. I just want to make sure everyone knows that we would welcome such an inquiry, proposal, or discussion.”

“We loan (it), and then they have to pay all the money it takes to operate it, and then at the end of the funded mission, we take it back and do safe disposal of the spacecraft.”

In case you didn’t know, the observatory was part of the discovery of planetary system known as TRApPIST-1 which features seven earth like planets back in February. As of now, the planetary system holds records of having most potentially habitable planets around a single star. However, it will be interesting to see if the observatory becomes part of other discoveries in the remaining months until the space agency’s fund for the observatory runs out in early 2019.

Featured image: Pixabay/FitzFox

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