This Day in History - April 24th, 1990 - Hubble Space Telescope Mission Launched

By: CBS News
By: CBS News

On April 24th, 1990, the Space Shuttle mission that would deploy the Hubble Space Telescope launched into space.

The telescope has a 94.5 inch mirror and is expected to look deeper into space and with a clarity 10 times greater than ever achieved by an earth-based telescope. The telescope is projected to be operational for 10-15 years with periodic servicing by astronauts via the shuttle.

The project had been in the works for 12 years and was deployed seven years after its original launch date. The delay in the launch date was only the beginning of the problems the Hubble space telescope was to encounter. Besides being launched late and millions of dollars over budget, the telescope has had serious problems since being deployed, the first being the miscalculations in the design of the telescope's lens. This was not discovered until the telescope was in space; thus it was necessary for the space shuttle to conduct a mission repairing the design problems and consequently costing the taxpayer even more money for the project and delaying its use.

Nonetheless, the telescope has made some incredible observations since becoming operational - such as finding out that Jupiter’s moon "Europa" has a thin oxygen atmosphere, and revealing a belt of hundreds of millions of comets encircling our solar system. Many other discoveries have been made since the advent of the space telescope, and over 1,000 scientific papers have been published based on observations made by Hubble. The question is, are the findings worth the trouble and money and time it has taken to make the telescope operational?

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