Today is the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. The observatory has been described as the “Machine of the Century.” Shortly after launch in 1990, we determined that the primary mirror had a flaw (spherical aberration). Eventually the flaw was fixed with some very clever engineering. Since the repair, the observatory has worked far beyond most people’s expectations. Having worked on Hubble for 21 years I wanted to give you some insight into why this mission has been so successful and is special to me. I think the world knows about the thousands of discoveries and valuable data this spacecraft has collected over many years. One can hardly pick up an astronomy book without seeing some reference to Hubble. It is hard to grasp the impact this mission has made on mankind’s search and exploration of the universe.
What always impressed me the most about working on this mission was the unwavering dedication of the scientists, engineers and support staff — the people! Many people have dedicated their entire careers to this mission. At times we worked around the clock and many days without sleep, determined to keep the spacecraft collecting data. Servicing missions to upgrade the science instruments were stressful and required long hours. People gave up their Christmas dinners and family time in preparation of Space Shuttle Servicing missions, yet no one ever complained. Hubble seemed to be more than a machine to the men and women that worked to support her. So when you see the pretty pictures the Hubble has taken please think of the thousands of dedicated workers that supported her all these years. I am extremely proud to have been part of this mission.
Lastly some of the technology developed for the Hubble has been put to good use here on earth. Many are not aware of the sensor technology, developed specially for Hubble, which is now used for the early detection of breast cancer. This technology has helped to save thousands of lives. Other technology that is now used in devices such as our smart phones are all offshoots of American’s Space program. So yes, I too love seeing the pretty photos that Hubble makes, but I am more proud of the team spirit, dedication and engineering ingenuity that such programs bring out in people. Exploration of the universe is alive and kicking in America’s Space Program. Let’s all wish the “Hub” a happy anniversary. Here’s hoping for many more years of discoveries.
About the Author
For 21 years Dave Lychenheim helped to explore the universe by supporting the Hubble Space Telescope while working for Lockheed Martin. Today Mr. Lychenheim continues his exploration of the planet, just a bit more down to earth. Mr. Lychenheim’s most recent exploits include several photographic safaris to South Africa. Seeing the wildlife in its natural habitat has had a profound impact on him as a photographer. Today Mr. Lychenheim has become an activist working towards better protections for the American Bald Eagle and other wildlife. Please give his Conowingo Bald Eagles Facebook page a like – https://www.facebook.com/ConowingoBaldEagles?fref=ts
Photo of the Hubble Space Telescope credit to NASA