On April 24th, 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched. Despite some ‘issues’ with the mirror shape (it was a fraction of a wavelength out of shape – the size of 1/50 the thickness of a piece of paper)the problems were soon sorted out and the Hubble started to give us some of the best images of deep stellar objects that we could ever expect to see.
Yesterday was Hubble’s 22nd Birthday:
Sadly, Hubble does not have many more birthdays. It is expected to come to an end of useful life in 2013 or 2014, and with the Shuttle Program new ended it will not be able to get any more maintenance. It is possible it useful life may continue beyond the expected end date much like some of the Martian Rovers continued past their short-expected lifespan, but that remains to be seen.
The Hubble does have a replacement in the James Webb Space Telescope.