Hubble Telescope timeline

A look back at key moments in the development, launch, and production of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hubble Space Telescope is shown in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Columbia Sunday, March 3, 2002, in one of the first close-up images of the telescope since December, 1999.

  • 1977: Congress approves funding for the Large Space Telescope (LST).
  • 1978: Astronauts begin training for space telescope missions.
  • 1979: Work begins on the telescope’s 2.4-meter diameter mirror.
  • 1981: Space Telescope Science Institute begins operations in Baltimore.
  • 1983: LST is renamed Hubble Space Telescope, after astronomer Edwin Hubble.
  • 1985: Hubble is completed.
  • 1990: Shuttle Discovery launches Hubble into orbit on April 25. Two months later, flaws are discovered in the primary mirror.
  • 1993: First servicing mission is launched.
  • 1994: Hubble sends back images of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 as it hits Jupiter.
  • 1995: It takes the famous “Pillars of Creation” photo of the Eagle Nebula.
  • 1996: Hubble “deep field” images reveal an unimaginable number of galaxies.
  • 2001: Observations detect elements of an exoplanet.
  • 2002: On the third servicing mission, new solar panels are installed.
  • 2005: Images reveal two previously unknown moons orbiting Pluto.
  • 2008: Hubble completes 100,000th orbit.
  • 2010: Distant galaxies show what the universe looked like at one-tenth its current age.
  • 2011: The 10,000th scientific paper is published using Hubble data.
  • 2012: Hubble sends back dramatic images of a planetary nebula, NGC 5189.
  • 2013: NASA launches the Frontier Fields project to look at galaxies deeper in the universe than ever before.
  • 2014: Hubble spots one of the farthest, smallest galaxies ever seen – 13 billion light-years away.
  • 2014: Hubble finds best evidence yet of an ocean on Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter. 
  • Sources: European Space Agency, NASA

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