After a decade of scanning the universe, NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory has a new lease on life – one that could extend its mission through 2013, and possibly longer.

NASA officially extended the 10-year-old Chandra mission by extending its science support contract by $172 million, which will fund the effort through 2013 and bring its total base cost up to $545 million. Options for two more life extensions for the healthy space telescope could increase its value to $913 million, NASA officials said.

“I think it’s very good news,” said astronomer Roger Brissenden, manager and flight director of the Chandra X-ray Center overseeing the space telescope’s science operations. “It shows they really do have confidence that the spacecraft is healthy and able to do good science.”

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