Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope
The first of NASA's Great Observatories for Space Astrophysics
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History of the Hubble Space Telescope

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The satellite that was to become the Hubble Space Telescope was conceived in the 1940s and referred to then as the Large Space Telescope. Later, NASA named it after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble.

Construction of HST was approved by the U.S. Congress in 1977 and the satellite was designed and built in the 1970s and 1980s.

NASA artist rendering of Hubble Space Telescope
NASA art
The telescope was prepared for a 15-year life span in space with servicing visits by astronautrs every three years.

Before the final pre-launch servicing plan, there was discussion of servicing Hubble in space every 2.5 years and then bringing it down to Earth by shuttle every five years. That plan died when engineers predicted structural problems arising from the trips down and up as well as a risk of contamination each time.

Hubble Space Telescope is in orbit 360 miles above Earth.

HST was a cooperative project between the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency (ESA).

In practice, Hubble was serviced four times after its launch in 1990. Shuttle astronauts repaired and upgraded it in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2002. A further service visit is planned for 2004. The satellite is expected to work in orbit until 2010. Some time after that, it is to be retrieved for display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

A follow-on telescope to replace Hubble is being designed to provide even clearer pictures of our Universe.

Hubble is controlled by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
Source: Goddard Space Flight Center

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