Yale University astronomy professor Dr. Debra Fischer said during the recent Exoplanets II conference that NASA is financially supporting a study that would look into the possibility of launching a space telescope using SpaceX’s upcoming BFR reusable rocket, Teslarati reported Monday.
The Large Ultraviolet/Optical/Infrared Surveyor telescope, or LUVOIR, is being developed for use in the exploration and investigation of exoplanets and is expected to be operational by the 2030s.
NASA needs a launch vehicle with a payload fairing big enough to carry LUVOIR A, the larger of the telescope’s two variants, whose proposed design features a 15-meter primary mirror and a 5,000 to 20,000-square meter sunshade.
LUVOIR A was meant to be sent into space aboard the Space Launch System Block 2 rocket, which would be capable of accommodating the telescope’s size.
Development issues have since led NASA to consider BFR, whose cargo capacity closely matches that of SLS Block 2.
BFR was originally conceived by SpaceX as a Martian transport for cargo and crew.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk previously said he wants to send missions to the red planet using BFR by 2022.