A Decade of Discovery
What a View:  Hubble's Eye on the Cosmos

Hubble in orbitIt 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.


Lyman SpitzerAfter 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 ever dreamed.

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