A Decade of Discovery
The Telescope's Journey:  From Fiction to Fact
1923: Famed rocket scientist Hermann Oberth publishes an article speculating on telescopes in orbit.
1946: Astronomer Lyman Spitzer writes a report entitled the "Astronomical Advantages of an Extra-terrestrial Observatory," in which he discusses the feasibility of building, launching, and operating a satellite observatory.
1957: Russians launch first satellite, Sputnik.
1958: Congress creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian space agency.
1962: A National Academy of Sciences study group recommends a large space telescope as a long-range goal of NASA.
1968: NASA successfully launches OAO-II, a small space observatory that orbited Earth for 41/2 years, measuring ultraviolet emissions of galaxies, stars, planets, and comets.
1969: The National Academy of Sciences publishes the "Scientific Uses of the Large Space Telescope" and approves the telescope project.
1971: The Large Space Telescope Science Steering Group is established and begins feasibility studies for a 3-meter space telescope.
1975: The European Space Agency agrees to participate in the project. The telescope's size is reduced to 2.4 meters.
1977: Congress approves the budget for a space telescope. Lockheed Missiles and Space Company wins the contract to design and build the telescope. Perkins-Elmer is awarded the contract to construct the optical telescope assembly, which includes the 2.4-meter primary mirror, the secondary mirror, and the three fine guidance sensors.
1979: Astronauts begin underwater training with telescope mockup.
1981: The Space Telescope Science Institute is established as the telescope's science operations center on the campus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.
1983: The telescope is named the Hubble Space Telescope after renowned astronomer Edwin P. Hubble.
1986: The telescope's launch is delayed after the Challenger accident. The telescope is kept in storage at Lockheed.
1989: The telescope is shipped from Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in California to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
1990: Hubble is launched aboard space shuttle Discovery.
1990: After analyzing Hubble's first pictures in June, astronomers discover that the telescope has "blurred vision," caused by a slight distortion in the 2.4-meter primary mirror.
1990: The telescope resolves a ring of material around Supernova 1987A.
1992: Hubble identifies nearby intergalactic clouds.
1993: The orbiting observatory discovers protoplanetary disks in the Orion Nebula.
1993: The first servicing mission takes place. Astronauts add a corrective optics system to fix the telescope's myopic vision.
1994: Hubble provides a detailed view of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy collision with Jupiter; offers definitive confirmation of the existence of supermassive black holes; reveals details of Pluto's surface; and captures a close-up look at jets and disks in young stellar objects.
1995: Through the "eyes" of Hubble, a brown dwarf star is seen clearly. Another observation, called the Hubble Deep Field, allows astronomers to see to the edge of the universe.
1996: Hubble resolves the host galaxies of quasars.
1997: The second servicing mission takes place. Astronauts install two new science instruments.
1997: Hubble identifies exotic populations of stars in globular clusters; sees the visible afterglow of a gamma-ray burst in a distant galaxy; and provides preliminary evidence for an accelerating universe from supernova observations.

The orbiting observatory detects a shock wave of debris striking a ring of material around Supernova 1987A.

In the Hubble Deep Field South observation, the telescope peers across space in the southern sky.

Another observation using Hubble's infrared camera provides the "deepest" views of the universe.

1999: Hubble observations allow astronomers to refine the universe's expansion rate to within 10 percent accuracy.
1999: The third servicing mission takes place. Astronauts replace the telescope's six gyroscopes, which help the orbiting observatory point at celestial objects.

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