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
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.