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Three Decades of
the Hubble Space Telescope
After decades of discussion and construction, the Hubble Space Telescope was finally launched on April 24, 1990. While HST was not the first space telescope, it represented a major expansion in capability that has helped upend humanity’s understanding of the universe. HST helped show that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and has transformed our view of the universe with a remarkable set of Hubble Deep Field images, amongst other things. Along the way, the engineers, scientists and astronauts behind HST managed to overcome a debilitating optical problem and have kept HST making discoveries for more than three decades. Now HST is about to work in tandem with its successor, the James Webb Telescope.
Christopher Gainor is a historian of technology specializing in space exploration and aeronautics. He has written four books on the history of space exploration and two on Cold War history. His most recent book is a history of Hubble Space Telescope operations published by NASA. Gainor is editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly. From 2018 to 2020, he was President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and he is a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Gainor holds a Ph.D. in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has worked as a history instructor at the University of Victoria and the Royal Military College of Canada.