Twenty-five years ago today, arguably the most important Space Shuttle mission of the 1990s landed back at the Kennedy Space Center, concluding a daring, complex, and high-stakes rescue mission to save the Hubble Space Telescope.
The mission was also largely symbolic of what NASA can accomplish and served as a restoration of the public’s confidence in the space agency following a series of missteps in the first three years of the new decade.
Saving Hubble – a mission to restore public confidence in NASA:
To say that NASA went through the wringer in the first few years of the 1990s would be an understatement.
In 1990 alone, the space agency, still recovering from the Challenger disaster of 1986, suffered multiple setbacks, not the least of these being persistent Liquid Hydrogen leaks across the Shuttle fleet – an issue that delayed multiple flights and forced a complete reordering of the launch manifest.
But on top of that, the agency’s premier space observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, was found to have a critical flaw in its primary optics mirror after its launch aboard Shuttle Discovery in April 1990.
The Hubble Space Telescope was billed as a revolutionary observatory taken clear of Earth’s ...