Here is one of the crew members accountable for the launch of the generation’s most crucial telescope.
There is no denying that space is massive and its diameter measures a minimum of 23 trillion light-years. That is the massive version of it and it’s not the “check out the size of the fish I managed to catch” version.
A light-year is comparable to 5.8 trillion miles. However, the reality is the universe is so huge that there is no way to measure the precise size. The measurements are so enormous that we often use them when we talk about space and its distances.
To roughly measure space, it is certain that light would be unable to travel from one corner to another of the universe before it comes to an end.
Around 186,000 miles every second is the travel measurement of the light and the termination of the universe is not predicted to be for a minimum of 200bn years beginning from now. Hence, don’t plan anything for Doomsday now.
The crucial technology has aided in setting up the limits of the apparent universe. Hubble Space Telescope is 94bn light years just in case you are wondering. It is nothing but an observatory in space.
The first main optical telescope was Hubble which was stationed in space and was above the misrepresentation of the cloud and the atmosphere of the earth. It has shown us a more comprehensive sight of the universe like never before.
However, after working for 31 years, the Hubble Space Telescope will soon be counter parted by the Webb Space Telescope.
In 1990, one of the team members responsible for placing the telescope into orbit was Dr Steven Hawley. It was a role that came along with huge responsibilities.
Hubble has shown its existence in orbit for close to 30 years, says Dr Steven Hawley, conversing with Betway.
“It has indeed been phenomenal for astronomy. A lot more than what I had visualized it could be at least. It was censoriously vital”.
Dr Hawley, who is now the professor of physics and astronomy and a director of engineering physics at Kansas University, sure knows what he is speaking on. He spent over 32 days for about 770 hours and 27 minutes in space between the years 1984 and 1999 in five distinct Space Shuttle missions.
The renowned missions were the launch of Hubble in 1990 and the maintenance mission in the year 1997. It is formally called the STS-86 Discovery and STS-31 Discovery. However, the personal expedition to outer space for Dr Hawley was the one he always thought he would not be able to get off the field.
“I always followed the space program during my childhood days, ” he says. When I was schooling in fifth grade, the launch of AL Shephard took place.
However, I never imagined I would become an astronaut someday as they were only military test pilots and I was not keen to become an astronomer.
“It was unsure if I had the required skills or traits to get there as I never operated an airplane ever or performed anything specifically unsafe”.
He came across a job ad from NASA at the University of California on the news board in 1977 when he was pursuing his Doctorate. That was the time he took those tiny steps to reach the stars.
It was certainly not an easy path to launch the telescope to create history.
“When I was chosen for NASA, there was no surety that I would go to space,” he says.
“We were given the title as an astronaut candidate and were required to undergo two years of training and assessment before the word ‘candidate’ could be removed”.
Ultimately, Dr. Hawley was given his primary mission in February 1983. It was close to five years post joining NASA. However, he didn’t take part in the Hubble launch for the next seven years.
“The groundwork involves many aspects” he says.
“The course seems like a classroom where you perform an assignment, along with simulators and a physical training course. Since I had never performed something like that before, I needed to understand how to operate the jets”.
The cockpit was an exciting move from the classroom. During the launch of the cockpit, there is a team of three people that consists of the flight engineer, the pilot, and the commander” he says.
I had a job to help the team with the entry and ascent procedures and it was not those regular processes. However, there was a problem during the event. It made me learn so much about the functioning of the shuttle that I truly enjoyed.
“I was not only the flight engineer for entry and launch for both missions of Hubble but also was the main robot-arm operator. My job was to lift the telescope from the payload bay and then release it. Although it sounds like a cakewalk, it is quite a challenging task”.
“The collision stoppage software doesn’t exist, and hence you have to play the role of the collision avoidance member. This is to ensure that you don’t drive the telescope right into the orbiter. Post the first launch, I looked at the earth and I was spellbound. It had great stimulation. One thing I still can’t forget is that the earth was all cloudy throughout and that was quite surprising to me”.
Taking part in such a crucial scientific event is something you can’t forget anytime soon. Even today, the significance of the legacy and his great work is not lost.
“During the anniversary of the telescope launch, I make it a point to send a note to my team and also share a few of the Hubble discoveries made in recent times” he says.
“Well, the discovery did take place although we don’t have a strong role to play. We think about the discovery always even after 31 years”.