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A brief history of the Hubble Space Telescope

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From late 2021, it will no longer be Hubble that is responsible for such discoveries. The Webb Space Telescope will soon be seen as a replacement and one that will perhaps find it difficult to outperform its predecessor.

Humans have long been drawn to the mysteries of space and have had a want, or almost a need, to explore. While mankind may have managed to enter space and take steps on the moon, long before this, someone had the idea of placing a gigantic telescope in space. One that would be capable of capturing the wonders of the universe.

Given that this idea was spawned back in 1923, it is perhaps unsurprising that the technology didn’t exist to turn this into a reality. Over time though, technology began to catch up with the idea of Herman Oberth and a space telescope would become a reality.

A slow start
The technology required to realise the idea of a space telescope hardly appeared overnight. It was 1946 when the idea had been updated to make it more realistic that it began to garner serious attention. The updated version of a space telescope was put forward by Lyman Spitzer and it took over 30 years of lobbying before this was taken seriously.

It wouldn’t be until the 1970s that NASA and the European Space Agency would investigate the idea of a space telescope let alone space tourism. When they did, interest grew at a phenomenal rate and by 1977 funds were being raised to aid the development and build. 

The telescope was named Hubble. This was in honour of Edwin Powell Hubble, the person who, in the 1920s, discovered the expansion of the universe. With a name now attached to the project, and a realistic plan, astronomers started to get just a little excited.

The dawn of the 1980s
1981 saw the precision ground mirror reaching completion and by 1985 the entire spacecraft had been assembled. It was planned for NASA to go ahead with a launch in 1986, but before the date was reached the word had witnessed the Challenger disaster. This led to delays that could not be avoided.

It wasn’t until 1990 that Hubble was finally launched. In an interview with Betway Casino, Dr Hawley speaks about the wonder of seeing the earth from afar as he played a pivotal role in putting Hubble into orbit.

The need to service
Not long after its launch, it was quickly realised that Hubble had a major flaw. This flaw meant that Hubble was unable to take the razor-sharp images that it was intended for. The cause of the issue? The mirror was too flat by a fiftieth of the width of a human hair!

After the mirror was rectified, there were a further four service missions to keep Hubble up to scratch and performing at the level that was needed. 

The future of Hubble
For 31 years, Hubble has been responsible for capturing the most awe-inspiring images ever seen. Alongside this, it has made discoveries that provide a valuable insight into the origins of the universe as well as what the future may hold - we now understand how our universe will come to an end.

From late 2021, it will no longer be Hubble that is responsible for such discoveries. The Webb Space Telescope will soon be seen as a replacement and one that will perhaps find it difficult to outperform its predecessor. 


Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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