The Hubble Wars, by Eric J. Chaisson
In December 1993, American astronauts were sent to perform repairs on the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and in so doing to mend the reputation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). With the Hubble mission successfully completed, NASA was able to recapture for a brief moment some of the glory that had attended the space program’s early years before the onset of a series of highly publicized failures.
In truth, however, the results of the Hubble repair effort were more ambiguous than has been commonly realized. Some serious technical problems were not resolved, and even the improvements that were made involved complex trade-offs in which some of the telescope’s capabilities were enhanced at the expense of others. Moreover, contrary to a widespread perception, Hubble was not entirely crippled prior to the repairs; the telescope, despite its flaws, had been gathering valuable scientific data.
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