The Hubble Space Telescope

written by David Mixson

When I was at KSC, a colleague walked up as I was drinking my morning coffee and said, “David, I want to show you something.”

When someone at KSC says that, you go—at least when the Shuttle was flying, and tons of flight hardware was going through the place.

We jumped in his car and headed south and east to a building I had never been to. I later learned it was called the Vertical Processing Facility (VPF).

As we entered the building, my friend looked at me with a big smile and said:

“David, we’re about to see the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Once inside, we put on bunny suits (and gloves) and passed through an air shower before entering the cleanroom.

And there it was! Hubble was sitting on a yellow holder of sorts at 45 degrees. It was much larger than I had imagined. It was magnificent. We stayed for as long as we could without looking like tourists, then left.

I was so taken aback by Hubble that I painted it in oils a year or so later when I took painting classes. See below. I wasn’t good at painting, but I enjoyed taking the classes. People who can create art fascinate me. 

Now that I think about it, I wonder if I ever told my kids I stood next to Hubble back in 1990. I guess they know now.

The astronauts who carried Hubble into space were Loren J. Shriver, Charles F Bolden Jr, Bruce McCandless II, Kathy Sullivan, and Steven Hawley.

While I didn’t get to work directly with them on this mission, I did get to see their payload up close and stick my head in their orbiter, Discovery, right before they left. I’m just saying.

I’d be happy to share the high-resolution pencil sketches I had drawn for this series with crew members. Reach out via email or on LinkedIn.


UPDATE: Several years after I painted the Hubble, I dropped a stapler on it while dusting my office and put a two-inch gash in the canvas. Initially, I was upset. Minutes later, I remembered what my mom had taught me about not crying over spilled milk.

* This article originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of the “Make NASA Great” series.

Hubble Space Telescope

In a cleanroom at KSC.

Painting of Hubble

One of two oil paintings I've done. Gash is on left solar array.

About the Author

David Mixson writes about Old Space and New Space. He worked as an engineer at NASA for more than thirty years and is the author of three books.

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