The Hubble Space Telescope: From Concept to Success

Front Cover

The highly successful Hubble Space Telescope was meant to change our view and understanding of the universe. Within weeks of its launch in 1990, however, the space community was shocked to find out that the primary mirror of the telescope was flawed. It was only the skills of scientists and engineers on the ground and the daring talents of astronauts sent to service the telescope in December 1993 that saved the mission.

For over two decades NASA had developed the capabilities to service a payload in orbit. This involved numerous studies and the creation of a ground-based infrastructure to support the challenging missions. Unique tools and EVA hardware supported the skills developed in crew training that then enabled astronauts to complete a demanding series of spacewalks.

Drawing upon first hand interviews with those closely involved in the project over thirty years ago this story explains the development of the servicing mission concept and the hurdles that had to be overcome to not only launch the telescope but also to mount the first servicing mission – a mission that restored the telescope to full working order three years after its launch, saved the reputation of NASA, and truly opened a new age in understanding of our place in space.

This is not just a tale of space age technology, astronauts and astronomy. It is also a story of an audacious scientific vision, and the human ingenuity and determination to overcome all obstacles to make it possible. Hubble Space Telescope: From Concept to Success is a story of an international partnership, dedicated teamwork and a perfect blend of human and robotic space operations that will inspire people of all ages. The subsequent servicing missions that enabled the telescope to continue its scientific program beyond its 25th year in orbit are described in a companion volume Enhancing Hubble’s Vision: Servicing a National Treasure.

 

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Contents

Deployment
1
The dream
50
A dream becomes reality
83
LST becomes ST becomes HST
131
Simulating servicing
190
Tools of the trade
246
Behind the scenes
275
Service Mission 1
330
Closing comments
382
Afterword
386
Abbreviations
389
Bibliography
397
About the author
401
Other works by the author
403
Index
405

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About the author (2015)

Having followed spaceflight activities since 1968, David Shayler has a broad range of experience covering all aspects of human spaceflight history. In October 1982, he created Astro Info Service to focus on his space writing and research, with lectures and educational outreach activities. Early publications included the periodicals ‘Orbiter’ on the shuttle and ‘Zenit’ on Soviet activities and a growing range of biographies on the world’s space explorers. In 1990 David co-created the Midland Spaceflight Society and acted as its chairman. His first book was published in 1987 and since then he has authored over 20 titles, including 13 titles in the Praxis Space Library between 2000 and 2009. He has contributed to titles on human spaceflight, including the three editions of “Who’s Who in Space” (MacMillan, 1998). Personal research has been conducted at NASA JSC in Houston, and at KSC in Florida, as well as at Rice and Clear Lake Universities and NARA archives in Texas. His research continues daily and new titles are under various stages of production, some of which are available via the AIS website.

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