KEEPING AN EYE ON THE UNIVERSE
THE HUBBLE SERVICE MISSIONS

The highly successful Hubble Space Telescope was meant to change our view and understanding of the universe. Within weeks of 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 concept of on orbit satellite servicing which had involved creating a ground-based infrastructure, unique tools and EVA hardware to support skills developed in crew training to enable astronauts to complete a demanding series of spacewalks. Developed from his two books on the topic The Hubble Space Telescope: From Concept to Success and  Enhancing Hubble’s Vision: Service Missions That Expanded Our View of the Universe, Dave Shayler, explains in his presentation, the background to and stories from the series of missions sent to service, repair and upgrade the telescope over a period of sixteen years. Based on first hand interviews with NASA Goddard engineer and managers who worked on the hardware and with many of the astronauts who flew the missions, this is not just a tale of space age technology, astronauts and astronomy. It is also a story of audacious scientific vision, and the human ingenuity and determination to overcome all obstacles to make it possible.
Originally intended to operate for 15 years, Hubble has surpassed its 25th anniversary, and thanks to the work of the huge team on the ground, and the spacewalking skills and experiences of the astronauts, there is every expectation that the telescope will continue to serve for 30 years, a true legacy of the Space Shuttle program.
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Keeping an eye on the universe