New Rocket Could Launch Really Big Telescopes

If you’ve got a really big rocket, what should you use it for? If you’re an astronomer, you’ll want it used to launch really big telescopes; observatories that would dwarf the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA’s new Ares V launcher, is being developed as part of the Vision for Space Exploration. Once completed, this mighty launcher will deliver cargo all the way to the Moon. In fact, it’ll be capable of launching 8% more weight than the Saturn V rockets that put humans on the Moon during the Apollo missions.

Philip Stahl, an engineer at NASA’s Marchall Space Flight Center thinks it should also be used to launch gigantic telescopes. How big? According to Stahl, Ares could loft a telescope with a primary mirror 8+ metres across. This would provide a telescope that could see objects 3 times sharper than Hubble, but more important, it could see objects 11 times fainter.

The main telescope could be launched by Ares V, and follow on missions by smaller rockets could send up new scientific instruments that attach to the end of the mirror. In this way, the observatory could be used for 50 years, just like an Earth-based telescope.

Original Source: NASA