The Hubble wars: astrophysics meets astropolitics in the two-billion-dollar struggle over the Hubble Space Telescope

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HarperCollins Publishers, Apr 21, 1994 - Nature - 386 pages
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The Hubble Space Telescope is the largest, most complex, and most powerful observatory ever deployed in space, designed to allow astronomers to look far back into our own cosmic past with unprecedented clarity. Yet from the day it was launched in 1990 - and soon discovered to be semi-blind - Hubble has been at the center of a cosmic-size controversy over who was responsible for its notorious failure to function and what could be done about it. In 1987, Eric J. Chaisson, an accomplished young astrophysicist, signed on as a senior scientist with the Hubble project. Drawing on the journals of his five-year tenure, he now re-creates the day-to-day struggle over (and often with) the infamously flawed two-billion-dollar recalcitrant beast in the sky. It's a hilarious and frightening story about a three-way war between science, government, and industry (with the military launching guerrilla attacks from the sidelines). Chaisson probes the politics and economics of astronomy and brings to life the human personalities - inside NASA, the international scientific community, and private industry - who do battle in The Hubble Wars. Writing lucidly about the technology of the telescope itself, Chaisson lets us feel what it's like to be at the controls of the most complex and expensive gadget ever built by humans, and relates the unending tasks devised to deal with "the bird's" eccentricities. Despite its imperfect vision, Hubble is able to see some stars, and Chaisson also explains with a scientist's keen passion the many wondrous discoveries that Hubble has made possible. In December 1993, NASA launched a much-heralded mission to "fix" Hubble, and shortly thereafter declared that it would now seebetter than originally expected. Chaisson tests these claims against the evidence of the images produces, and assesses what Hubble means to the goals of future space exploration. With over one hundred black-and-white and full-color photographs, this is an illuminating account of the perils - and possibilities - at the heart of one of the most ambitious scientific enterprises in history, and a provocative inquiry into the place of science in space.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The astrophysicist and author of The Life Era (1987) relates in characteristic deadpan fashion the tumultuous history of the ill-fated (if recently redeemed) Hubble Space Telescope project. ``Given ... Read full review

The Hubble wars: astrophysics meets astropolitics in the two-billion-dollar struggle over the Hubble Space Telescope

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

When launched in April 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was billed by NASA as able to "see beyond the edge of the universe.'' The hype quickly turned into bureaucratic stonewalling when the telescope ... Read full review


Deployment and Early Operations
Jitters in Space and on the Ground
HubbUs First Light

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