The Hubble Space Telescope, one of the largest and most complex satellites ever built, was the result of over 20 years of science research and engineering. Deployed April 25, 1990 from the space shuttle Discovery, Hubble barely skims the Earth’s atmosphere, orbiting just 380 miles above our planet.
Hubble is the size of a school bus and looks like a five-story tower of stacked silver canisters. Each canister houses important telescope equipment: the focusing mirrors, computers, imaging instruments, and pointing and control mechanisms. Extending from the telescope are solar panels for generating electricity and antennas for communicating with operators on the ground.
It is named after American astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble, who among other achievements, discovered in 1929 that the universe is expanding. Every 97 minutes, the Hubble telescope orbits around Earth, moving at the speed of five miles per second — fast enough to travel across the United States in about 10 minutes.