By Bryan Lufkin
If it weren’t for the Hubble telescope, our selection of amazing images for lock screens and desktop backgrounds would be far scantier. Thankfully, NASA’s omnipresent orbiter has been snapping celestial photos for a good quarter century—but its construction actually began way earlier, back in the late 70s, continuing throughout the next decade.
These images show Hubble in its earlier days—back when it was still just an ambitious project under construction. Since shipping to space on April 24th, 1990, it’s captured hundreds of thousands of images—including iconic discoveries like the Pillars of Creation—and has fundamentally shaped the way we see the universe. Not bad for disco-era hardware.
The Conversation pointed out this photo of Hubble’s 8-foot diameter Primary Mirror being polished in 1979. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Early construction in 1980 at a Lockheed Martin plant. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Engineers inspect Hubble’s Primary Mirror in 1981. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The solar panels used to power the ‘scope are inspected in 1985. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Hubble’s skeleton being assembled at Lockheed. Source: NASA
Basking in the main mirror. 1990. Source: NASA
Large and in charge. Source: NASA
Prepping for launch at Kennedy Space Center. Source: NASA
And voila, the finished product, seen here during a servicing mission in 2009. Decades later and still rockin’ it. Keep that astral eye candy coming, Hubble.