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A Permanent Presence in Space

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The Hubble Space Telescope is the largest astronomical telescope ever sent into space. It was launched in 1990 from Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-31 mission. From its vantage point high above Earth's obscuring atmosphere, the telescope is providing astronomers with fascinating new information on the state of the universe.

The Hubble Space Telescope was designed to be delivered into orbit by the Space Shuttle and to be serviced periodically in space by Shuttle astronauts. The first servicing and repair mission was conducted in 1993 by the crew of STS-61 on Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Hubble in space
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Line Art, HubbleThis full-size test vehicle was used from 1972 to 1985 at the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California, during the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. It resembles the actual telescope in size and basic structure, but it is not intended for use in space.

The test vehicle has been refurbished twice. For an earlier exhibit, the Museum restored its configuration for structural dynamic tests. In 1996 thermal blankets, antennas, and other features were added to depict the telescope's appearance in space.

Reconstructed test vehicle transferred from Lockheed Missiles and Space Company

Hubble Space Telescope Test Vehicle
Length: 13.3 m (43 ft 6 in) 12.9 m (42 ft 4 in)
Diameter: 3.1-4.3 m (10-14 ft) 3.1-4.3 m (10-14 ft)
Weight: 11,600 kg (25,500 lb) 3,800 kg (8,500 lb)
Manufacturer: Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. Lockheed Missiles and Space Co.
Launch vehicle: Space Shuttle  
Hubble Space Telescope in assembly bay
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APERTURE DOOR Shields the telescope mirror from sunlight.
LIGHT SHIELD Prevents stray light from entering the telescope.
FORWARD SHELL Encloses the telescope.
EQUIPMENT SECTION Contains electronic equipment to operate the spacecraft.
AFT SHROUD Houses scientific instruments that analyze light gathered by the telescope.
SOLAR ARRAYS Provide electrical power for telescope operations.
HIGH-GAIN ANTENNAS For receiving operating commands and transmitting data.
MAGNETIC TORQUERS (4) Use the Earth's magnetic field to help orient the spacecraft.
STAR TRACKERS Lock onto bright stars to help point the telescope.
HAND RAILS Crew aids for use during servicing missions.
TRUNNIONS (2) Latch the telescope into the payload bay of the Space Shuttle.
The National Air and Space Museum gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for donating this artifact and supporting its initial restoration. The test vehicle was refurbished for this exhibit by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, Lockheed Martin Technical Operations, Jackson and Tull, NSI Technology Services, Swales & Associates, Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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