Seven years late (25th April 1990), the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed where it belongs: out of this world and in search of others so distant that they may have been formed at the beginning of time. Less than five hours after it rode into space aboard the shuttle Discovery, the $1.5 billion telescope sent its first test radio signal. At the sign of life, applause and cheers erupted at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland where astronomers monitored their spacecraft.
"As near as we can tell, everything looks perfect," said astronaut Steve Hawley from the shuttle. Hawley's job on Wednesday will be to drop the telescope overboard for a 15-year stay in space. Discovery, trailing an arc of white smoke into a brilliant blue sky, carried the silver-coloured telescope to an orbit 380 miles above Earth higher by 70 miles than any previous shuttle. There, the Hubble will stay to search for yet unseen wonders of creation with instruments that can .look 14 billion years backward in time. Each trip around the Earth was taking the Discovery crew 97.3 minutes, longer than on any previous shuttle flight because of the altitude. The view was different, too. "I've got to tell you, I just made it up to the flight deck for a first look out the window," said mission specialist Kathryn Sullivan, who flew the shuttle once before, in 1984.
"The history of astronomy is a history of receding horizons" Edwin Hubble.
"Three-thirty is a whole lot higher than 120 was," she said, referring to the altitude in nautical miles. "I don't know how much longer it takes you to get here, but every second of the wait is worth every second that you get. "Our window on the universe!" NASA launch commentator George Diller exulted as the Discovery rose off its seaside launch pad. Its a beautiful day to' have Hubble Space Telescope in orbit instead of here on Earth like its been for so many years, said NASA administrator Richard Truly, "Hubble's in its element and I'm delighted."' The telescope was supposed to be launched in 1983, but technical problems and the Challenger accident delayed its deployment. The telescope is 43 feet long and 14 feet in diameter, about the size of a railroad tank car. It is named after the late astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, who theorized that the Universe was expanding and that the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it is travelling. That gave support to the theory that a massive explosion the Big Bang created the universe 10 to 20 billion years ago. The Hubble is expected to help provide the answer to two major questions: How old is the universe? How big is it? Today, Hawley is to grapple the 12-ton telescope with the shuttles mechanical arm, lift it out of the cargo bay, point it, and after a long checkout drop it overboard to orbit on its own.