Published on November 19th, 2021
The Hubble Telescope was launched 31 years ago. It is about the size of a large school bus and orbits the earth at 17,000 miles per hour.
This was NASA’s spy in the sky that gave us a peek into the vast, unknown universe. Named after Edwin Hubble, it has been a pioneer in exploring space and nearby galaxies for as long as it’s been in service.
The Hubble Space Telescope, which is essentially an observatory in the sky, is the most crucial piece of technology.
It has helped us determine the limits of the observable universe – 94 billion light-years, in case you were wondering.
Hubble was the first big optical telescope to be sent into space. It has provided us with a more detailed image of the cosmos than ever before, despite the distortion caused by clouds and the earth’s atmosphere.
Who Is Dr. Steven Hawley?
Dr. Steven Hawley was a crewman in charge of putting the telescope into orbit in 1990, a position that came with a lot of responsibility. Speaking to Betway, Dr. Hawley reminisces about his journey to becoming an astronaut.
He also spoke about how he feels that today’s generation can join NASA and make history as he did back in his day.
After having spent about 770 hours (more than 32 days) in space between 1984 and 1999, Dr. Hawley is one of the few who can speak about the prospects of these missions.
Now, he is a director of engineering physics and a professor of astronomy and physics at Kansas University.
He says an easy entry into the NASA astronaut program requires a military test pilot’s license. However, despite wanting to be an astronomer and never having flown an aircraft before, Dr. Hawley responded to a job advert from NASA on the bulletin board of the University of California.
He took his first steps towards the stars in 1977 while pursuing his PhD.The process begins with being hired as an ‘astronaut candidate.’
After going through excruciating training and rigorous evaluations for two years, successful candidates will be hired as astronauts by NASA. Dr. Hawley was assigned his first mission in 1983, five years after his joining.
He recalls that the transition from classroom to the cockpit was exciting. There were simulators, physical training courses and his case, learning how to fly the jets.
The Hubble Missions
When the time came for his two Hubble missions, he was the flight engineer for launch and entry and the prime robot arm operator.
The former part of his job was to help the pilot and the commander with ascending and entry procedures. The latter involved lifting the Hubble Telescope out of the payload bay and releasing it.
The 69-year-old professor remembers looking out the window and noticing that the earth was cloudy most of the time. Little did he know he was making history.
Now, the Hubble Space Telescope is being replaced by the Webb Space Telescope. The largest ever made in the history of telescopes, at half the size of a 737 aircraft! Its range may not be as long as the Hubble’s, but its vision stretches 13 billion light-years away.
One might think that is far enough. However, space is big, at least 23 trillion light-years in diameter. This is why the Webb Space Telescope will be orbiting the sun instead of the earth at about 932,000 million miles away from us.
Reach For The Stars
Joining the NASA programs doesn’t necessarily guarantee a space mission, but pioneering projects don’t run themselves. Take the Webb Space Telescope, for instance.
It will look at and take pictures of the galaxy from around the sun. Even if it isn’t a staffed project due to its proximity to the sun, one can always dream of finding unimaginable things in space from their NASA offices.