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When the James Webb telescope launches in 2013, it’ll be the most powerful telescope ever deployed in space. To the get the best view, using the least fuel, it’ll sit in a stable orbit about 1.6 million km (1 million miles) from Earth. Unlike Hubble, it was never meant to be repaired. But NASA announced that it’s considering installing a grapple attachment anyway, just to be safe.
Since the new Orion spacecraft will be capable of taking astronauts to the Moon and back, NASA is investigating how feasible it’ll be to send astronauts to the James Webb telescope to perform emergency servicing operations. Although the observatory is meant to never be serviced, it’s good to keep your options open.
Engineers are currently working out what would be the best kind of hardware they could add to the telescope, so that future astronauts or robotic missions could link up with the telescope and perform repairs.
Original Source: NASA News Release