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Photos: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Missions

Fixing the Hubble Space Telescope

NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope is an icon of astronomy. Launched in April 1990, the space-based observatory opened up the universe to scientists - and the public - like never before. And here's the kicker: Hubble is still going strong today.

But it was a rocky road at the start. After launch, NASA realized the Hubble telescope had blurry vision and required another mission to fix its flawed optics. Ultimately five servicing missions were launched between 1993 and 2009 to repair and upgrade Hubble. See some of the highlights of those missions in this SPACE.com slideshow.

Hubble's Deployment: STS-31

NASA

This mission patch was used by the crew of NASA's STS-31 mission aboard Discovery, which deployed the Hubble Space Telescope on April 25, 1990.

Hubble Space Telescope Deployment

NASA/Smithsonian/Lockheed.

The Hubble Space Telescope, as filmed during deployment in April 1990, by an IMAX camera mounted on the shuttle.

Mission to Hubble: STS-61

NASA

On Dec. 2, 1993, NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launched on the STS-61 mission to fix the ailing Hubble Space Telescope. The 12-day mission added new instruments and corrected a flaw in the space telescope's optics.

Protecting the Hubble

NASA

Astronaut F. Story Musgrave, anchored on the end of the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm, prepares to be elevated to the top of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to install protective covers on the magnetometers during Endeavour's STS-61 mission, which launched on Dec. 2, 1993. Astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman inside the shuttle's payload bay, assisted Musgrave with final servicing tasks on the telescope, wrapping up five days of space walks.

Mission to Hubble: STS-82

NASA

The second servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was the STS-82 flight aboard Discovery in February 1997. The mission launched on Feb. 11 and landed on Feb. 21. The mission overhauled many of Hubble's systems and delivered the highly sensitive Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer.

Discovery's STS-103 Reflecting on the Lake

NASA

Like a rising sun, space shuttle Discovery rockets into the night sky on the STS-103 mission on Dec. 19, 1999 at 7:50 p.m. EST. The brilliant light creates a reflection of the launch in the water nearby. STS-103 was a servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. It was the 27th flight of Discovery and the 96th mission for the space shuttle program.

Mission to Hubble: STS-103

NASA

This image shows the mission patch for the STS-103 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope in December 19999. The mission launched on the space shuttle Discovery on Dec. 19 and returned to Earth on Dec. 27.

STS-103 mission to Hubble

NASA

Spacewalkers upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope in March 2002.

A Space Shuttle Christmas

NASA

This still from a NASA video shows the only Christmas holiday mission by a space shuttle crew. The astronauts of NASA's STS-103 mission in December 1999 visited the Hubble Space Telescope for a repair flight and donned Santa hats to mark the Christmas holiday in space.

Mission to Hubble: STS-109

NASA

The fourth mission to the Hubble Space Telescope was NASA's STS-109 mission in March 2002. The 13-day mission launched on March 1 aboard the shuttle Columbia and delivered Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, new solar arrays and other gear.

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