On this day in 1990, the space shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into low Earth orbit. Arguably no other unmanned spacecraft has had as large an impact on the public consciousness over such a sustained period of time.
The images Hubble has returned are nothing short of spectacular, but that is just the surface. This one telescope has literally, figuratively, and in every way conceivable, changed our view of the universe. Hubble may have been launched with imperfect vision, but she must surely go down in history as one of NASA’s most successful spacecraft of all time. She even plays a part in the history of manned spaceflight, proving the technical, (though sadly not yet economic) feasibility and usefulness of on-orbit repair and servicing.
Not bad for a girl who wears glasses Sweet sixteen, and never been kissed, as the saying goes. Happy birthday, Hubble!