The launch was a disaster, and caused many laughter at the expense of NASA. But today one can hardly overestimate Hubble’s contribution to astronomy.
After the space shuttle Discovery put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit on April 24, 1990, astronomers worldwide were eager to see the first images. But when the first images arrived on Earth, the shock was great. An uncleanly polished mirror made sure that hardly any usable images came out of it. The joint project of NASA and ESA seemed to become one of the most expensive failures in the history of space travel.
But when Hubble went into service after a number of dangerous repair missions, it soon became clear that science was catapulting itself into completely new dimensions. And indeed, nothing else in the last 30 years has brought such a mass of scientific knowledge and wonderful images to Earth as the Hubble Space Telescope.
Today it is getting on in years, and with Keppler it has a competitor that provides even better images from the depths of the universe. And yet even after 30 years, it continues to make its rounds and discovers one fascination after another.
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