Hubble Space Telescope Turns 30

The Hubble Space Telescope recently turned 30 years old.

It was launched on April 24, 1990.

The space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.

It was not the first space telescope but it is one of the largest and most versatile, well known both as a vital research tool and as a public relations boon for astronomy.

Hubble is the only telescope designed to be maintained in space by astronauts. Five Space Shuttle missions have repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope, including all five of the main instruments.

In 2009 the last servicing mission by the Space Shuttle, NASA installed the Soft Capture Mechanism, to enable deorbit by either a crewed or robotic mission. The SCM, together with the Relative Navigation System, mounted on the Shuttle to collect data to "enable NASA to pursue numerous options for the safe de-orbit of Hubble", constitute the Soft Capture and Rendezvous System.