Investing in Space

NASA's Hubble telescope launched 30 years ago – here's a look at Lockheed Martin building it

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 30 years of celestial fireworks
Key Points
  • NASA's immense Hubble space telescope launched on April 24, 1990.
  • Lockheed Martin built the complex spacecraft at its facility in Sunnyvale, California.
  • The company's photos give a behind-the-scene look at Hubble's assembly before launch.
Lockheed Martin technicians examine part of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope during assembly.
Lockheed Martin

NASA launched the immense Hubble space telescope thirty years ago on Friday, a spacecraft that helped astronomers make numerous discoveries and is still operating in orbit today.

The space shuttle Discovery lifts off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39-B on April 24, 1990, carrying a crew of five and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The ambition and size of the Hubble project meant utilizing several of NASA's space centers. The agency commissioned PerkinElmer to build Hubble's mirror, while Lockheed Martin was commissioned to assemble the spacecraft and integrate the telescope on to it. Despite early problems with the PerkinElmer-built mirror, NASA launched a replacement a few years later and the telescope was ultimately successful.

Lockheed Martin built the complex spacecraft at its facility in Sunnyvale, California. On the whole, Hubble weighs more than 12 tons and the spacecraft is 43.5 feet long.

Behind-the-scenes of Lockheed Martin's assembly

Lockheed Martin engineers roll NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spacecraft into the company's Sunnyvale, California facility.
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin technicians perform a "fit check" for the solar arrays of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin continues to support the Hubble telescope since its launch on April 24, 1990. The company's employees help NASA manage day-to-day operations. Lockheed Martin has also provided training for the five times NASA astronauts serviced Hubble, replacing and repairing critical components in space.

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