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Hubble space telescope to operate until 2021

Staff writer |
U.S. space agency NASA said its 26-year-old Hubble Space Telescope will keep working in orbit until 2021.

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NASA said in a statement it has awarded a five-year sole source contract extension to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for continued Hubble science operations support at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

This action extends the period of performance from July 1 through June 30, 2021, it said, adding that the contract value will increase by about 196.3 million U.S. dollars for a total contract value of 2.03 billion dollars.

According to NASA, Hubble is "better than ever" after the final space shuttle servicing mission to the telescope in 2009.

"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," said the statement.

Hubble was launched in April 1990, and NASA has planned to replace it with the so-called James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched into space in 2018 as the premier observatory of the next decade.

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