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Hubble at 25

Today marks 25 years since the Hubble Space Telescope, arguably our best eye in the sky, was launched. Whether it’ll still be operational for its 30th anniversary is unknown at the moment, especially since it can’t be serviced anymore after the United States gave up on the space shuttles without having any sort of replacement ready, but let us hope it’ll at least last until its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, will become operational, though it’d of course be even better if they could work together, at least for a while.
The Hubble’s long years of service started particularly poorly, with years of delays, costs that exceeded the initial estimates several times over and a flawed mirror that initially made it next to useless, but thanks to the fact that it was built to be serviced, the flaw could finally be fixed a few years later and the Hubble could truly make history, as it continues to do even now. Which, I guess, proves that, at least sometimes, what starts poorly doesn’t necessarily have to end even worse. More importantly, however, it proves that things need to be built to last, which sadly very few are anymore, and also, if at all possible, to be repaired, which the major space telescopes currently planned to be launched in the foreseeable future unfortunately won’t be.
But that’s another issue. At the moment, I’m only writing this brief post to honor the Hubble and the people who imagined, designed, built, maintained and made proper use of it over all these years. It and they have not only found answers to important questions both old and new and, as it’s usually the case, replaced some of them with even more interesting and intriguing ones, but also inspired people and popularized space exploration and sciences, reminding people of the wonders of our universe and, perhaps, to some extent, of our place in it. Which, at a time when we as a species are too busy stumbling and looking at our feet to even lift our eyes to the sky anymore, is at least as important.


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