Kathryn Sullivan, Hubble Space Telescope, Lyman Spitzer discussed on BBC World Service

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Space shuttle launches word an amazing experience you had five engines running at the same time as you lift off the pad NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan was one of the five crew members of the discovery shuttle mission the solid rocket boosters as we call the two firecrackers you know they burn like fire crackers burned its turbulent it's combustible it's really you know shaking kind of ride partly earthquake partly fighter jet deceleration pushing back there discovery going throttle up for astronomers around the world the Hubble Space Telescope was a dream come true the idea dated as far back as nineteen forty six when astronomer Lyman Spitzer was one of the first to suggest putting a telescope in space but it took decades of progress in engineering for this vision to become a reality one of the key people that I worked with on the Hubble program was a manager named James autumn I found a delightful quote from him to the effect that trying to look at the stars from the earth is like trying to do bird watching from the bottom of lake that's really what Hubble is about the atmosphere always has water particles and dust particles in it that will tend to scatter light so if you could put a really high performing telescope above all of that it really opened great doors to astronomy costing billions of dollars the Hubble was a sophisticated but fragile telescope the size of a school bus the world held its breath when he was released into orbit on the second day of the discovery mission April the twenty fifth nineteen ninety Hubble was bolted into the cargo bay of the shuttle and attached with an electrical connector and the shuttle had a fifty foot long robotic arm that could grab onto the telescope at one particular specially designed point says mission control mission specialist Dave Holly continuing to take the it was Steve Hollies job to grapple the telescope with robotic arm and lifted out it's a very large spacecraft the shuttle cargo bay is sixty feet long and fifteen feet wide Hubble fit in there you almost like a hand in a glove or loaf of bread.

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