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Hubble at 25

April 22, 2015

It was years late and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget, but 25 years ago this week, Hubble Space Telescope was finally ready to fly.

The telescope was designed to provide especially sharp views of the universe by escaping Earth’s atmosphere, which blurs the view and blocks some wavelengths of energy. It included a 96-inch mirror to gather and focus starlight, and a set of instruments to study that light.

PAO: 3, 2, 1, and liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery with the Hubble Space Telescope, our window on the universe.

Discovery carried Hubble into orbit on April 24th, 1990. And the following day, the crew was ready to send the telescope on its way. But there was a problem: One of Hubble’s two solar arrays wouldn’t open.

DISCOVERY: Houston, Discovery, it looks like motion stopped with just about one panel showing.

Without both arrays, Hubble wouldn’t have enough power to do its work. And there wasn’t much time to get it open. Mission Control ordered two astronauts to suit up for a possible spacewalk to fix the problem.

At the last minute, though, controllers discovered the culprit — a faulty sensor. They bypassed it, and the array opened perfectly. So one orbit late, Houston was ready to give Discovery the green light:

AUDIO: GC? Go. Network? Go. Payloads, waiting on you. Flight, payloads, we are go. Capcom, we have a go for release. Discovery, go for Hubble release.

Minutes later, Hubble was on its way. Yet even then, things weren’t quite right. More about that tomorrow.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015

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