NASA HISTORY: Space Shuttle Discovery Deployed Hubble Space Telescope 26 Years Ago

By  //  April 24, 2016

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NASA'S Charlie Bolden piloted mission

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On April 24 in 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31) launched on the Hubble Space Telescope deployment mission. The pilot on that mission was astronaut Charlie Bolden – now the Administrator of NASA. (NASA image)

NASA HISTORY – On April 24 in 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31)  launched on the Hubble Space Telescope deployment mission. The pilot on that mission was astronaut Charlie Bolden – now the Administrator of NASA.

Bold promises were made about the potential of the Hubble to peer into the depths of space. However, in the weeks after deployment, the Hubble team detected a big problem. Hubble’s primary mirror was too shallow towards its outer edges by about 2 microns, a fraction of the width of a human hair. Nevertheless, this slight defect prevented the Hubble from achieving the crisp images that were promised.

After careful research and exacting preparation another Shuttle mission was launched to repair and improve the telescope. STS-61 was launched December 2, 1993, on one of the most complex missions of the Shuttle program.

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The first images were received from the newly serviced Hubble on December 18, 1993 and the results were perfect: a crystal clear image of a star.

Thanks to this ingenious repair, (and several more that followed) Hubble continues to relay miraculous images of the depths of space.

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