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Hubble Telescope timeline

A look back at key moments in the development, launch, and production of the Hubble Space Telescope.

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The Hubble Space Telescope is shown in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Columbia Sunday, March 3, 2002, in one of the first close-up images of the telescope since December, 1999.

NASA/AP

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  • 1977: Congress approves funding for the Large Space Telescope (LST).
  • 1978: Astronauts begin training for space telescope missions.
  • 1979: Work begins on the telescope’s 2.4-meter diameter mirror.
  • 1981: Space Telescope Science Institute begins operations in Baltimore.
  • 1983: LST is renamed Hubble Space Telescope, after astronomer Edwin Hubble.
  • 1985: Hubble is completed.
  • 1990: Shuttle Discovery launches Hubble into orbit on April 25. Two months later, flaws are discovered in the primary mirror.
  • 1993: First servicing mission is launched.
  • 1994: Hubble sends back images of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 as it hits Jupiter.
  • 1995: It takes the famous “Pillars of Creation” photo of the Eagle Nebula.
  • 1996: Hubble “deep field” images reveal an unimaginable number of galaxies.
  • 2001: Observations detect elements of an exoplanet.
  • 2002: On the third servicing mission, new solar panels are installed.
  • 2005: Images reveal two previously unknown moons orbiting Pluto.
  • 2008: Hubble completes 100,000th orbit.
  • 2010: Distant galaxies show what the universe looked like at one-tenth its current age.
  • 2011: The 10,000th scientific paper is published using Hubble data.
  • 2012: Hubble sends back dramatic images of a planetary nebula, NGC 5189.
  • 2013: NASA launches the Frontier Fields project to look at galaxies deeper in the universe than ever before.
  • 2014: Hubble spots one of the farthest, smallest galaxies ever seen – 13 billion light-years away.
  • 2014: Hubble finds best evidence yet of an ocean on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. 

Sources: European Space Agency, NASA


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