The Hubble Space Telescope was first talked about in a 1946 RAND report. Yes, that is correct, 1946. It took 20 years for the project to gather momentum. However, after the Apollo missions, more focus and budget money were given over to social programs and the amount for space exploration reduced.

Hubble was estimated to cost as much as $900 million and to get the project off the ground; the scientists in charge said it would cost $300 million, for no particular reason other than it seemed to be the politically acceptable number.

Thus, the mirror was shrunk in size, quality control sacrificed and poor lens grinding due to costs pressures incurred. If not for the fact that the telescope was made to be serviced in space, hence the later lens repair mission a few years after Hubble’s launch in 1990, it would have been a disastrous failure.

A new book by Robert Zimmerman, “The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It“, was published in May.

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It looks to be an interesting account of the Hubble project along with the political intrigue and budget considerations as well as the science behind the program. It is on my list to buy as soon as I can catch up on some other books I’ve partially read.