If it weren’t for the Hubble telescope, our selection of dope images for lock screens and desktop backgrounds would be far scantier. Thankfully, NASA’s omnipresent orbiter has been snapping celestial photos for a good quarter century — but its construction actually began way earlier, back in the late ’70s, continuing throughout the next decade.
These images show Hubble in its earlier days — back when it was still just an ambitious project under construction. Since shipping to space on April 24, 1990, it’s captured hundreds of thousands of images — including iconic discoveries like the Pillars of Creation — and has fundamentally shaped the way we see the universe. Not bad for disco-era hardware.
The Conversation pointed out this photo of Hubble’s 2.4m diameter Primary Mirror being polished in 1979. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Early construction in 1980 at a Lockheed Martin plant. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Engineers inspect Hubble’s Primary Mirror in 1981. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The solar panels used to power the ‘scope are inspected in 1985. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Hubble’s skeleton being assembled at Lockheed. Source: NASA
Basking in the main mirror. 1990. Source: NASA
Large and in charge. Source: NASA
Prepping for launch at Kennedy Space Center. Source: NASA
And voila, the finished product, seen here during a servicing mission in 2009. Decades later and still rockin’ it. Keep that astral eye candy coming, Hubble.