takes powerful telescopes to study the uncharted territories
of the vast cosmos. But it became increasingly clear to astronomers
that Earth's atmosphere distorted starlight, which made it
difficult to obtain razor-sharp views of celestial objects.
The idea of placing a telescope in space, above Earth's turbulent
air, had been kicked around for several years. But scientists
pondered how to transport a telescope into space. The rocket
technology pioneered by Oberth and Goddard and revolutionized
by the Germans during World War II became the means of transportation.
scientists figured out the means, they focused on coming up
with the money to develop and build a space telescope. The
newly established NASA (created in 1958) and well-known American
astronomers such as Lyman Spitzer began championing the cause,
trying to convince Congress that such a project was useful.
In 1977 Congress finally agreed to allocate the money. But
it took a decade of research, planning, and testing before
NASA successfully launched its first space observatory. And
two more decades passed before NASA launched the Hubble telescope,
which has expanded our heavenly vistas far more than its namesake
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