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A Decade of Discovery HubbleSite
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Investigating Space Photos
The Hubble Story Video


Design & Build of Hubble The Vault

The idea of putting a telescope in space has been around for a long time. Earth's atmosphere distorts light and causes a great deal of viewing problems for ground telescopes. A telescope above the atmosphere has a much clearer view of the universe.

Finally, after many years of dreaming, the orbiting telescope took shape during the 1970s and 1980s. Its designers were wise to realize that technology would advance dramatically during Hubble's long life, so they built Hubble to be upgraded by astronauts. Hubble was built, integrated, and tested at Lockheed Martin's Sunnyvale, Calif., plant.

Many of Hubble's major structures are visible in this picture. The telescope is divided into sections that are stacked together like canisters. In the front is the aperture door and light shield that protect the sensitive mirror and instruments from bright light, such as the sunlight or earthshine. Next is the forward shell that encloses the optical telescope assembly mirrors. Then comes the equipment section that houses most of the Hubble subsystems. At the rear end of Hubble is the aft shroud that covers the science instruments and Fine Guidance Sensors. The solar arrays and communications antennas are attached to the side of the telescope. You can also see external handrails that aid the astronauts in performing maintenance and repair tasks.

The photograph shows Hubble being lifted into the upright position in the Vertical Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for launch. Finally, after many delays, including the Challenger disaster, Hubble was launched on April 24, 1990 aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

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