The Missions that Enabled the Hubble Space Telescope to Unravel Mysteries of the Universe

John M. Grunsfeld
Astronaut and Associate Administrator Science Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.

Sponsored by The Policy Studies Organization
In Cooperation with the American Public University

Gavel to Gavel Meeting


Over the course of the last 25 years the Hubble Space Telescope has opened the eyes of the public to the vast beauty and deep mysteries of the universe, and has transformed the scientific fields of physics and astronomy.  These stunning contributions were made possible by a series of complex and daring human spaceflight missions using the NASA Space Shuttle.  Indeed, Hubble's history is peppered by unexpected challenges and heroic, successful efforts to overcome them, from correcting the spherical aberration that was discovered as soon as Hubble opened its eye in space in 1990, to reversing the 2004 cancellation of further servicing missions and carrying out the final repair and upgrade mission in 2009.

In this talk, John Grunsfeld, the lead Hubble repairman, will describe these amazing missions using vivid imagery from high definition still and video cameras on the final servicing mission.  He will present a story about science, politics, and human drive and creativity.   The success of the Hubble has depended on teams of engineers, technicians, scientists, and astronauts working together on high performance challenges for the cause of the exploration of the cosmos.  The science and inspiration from these efforts have been extraordinary. 

Biographical Sketch:

John GrunsfeldJohn Grunsfeld

John M. Grunsfeld is Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.  Previously he was Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and Professor of Physics at Johns Hopkins University.  John was an astronaut from 1992 until joining STSI as Deputy Director.  Before becoming an astronaut, John was a Senior Research Fellow at CalTech in Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.

John made five space shuttle flights.  He visited Hubble three times on those missions, and performed eight spacewalks to service and upgrade the observatory.   In all, he logged more than 58 days in space, and 58 hours and 30 minutes of spacewalk time.  He made his first shuttle flight on Endeavour in 1995, studying the far ultraviolet spectra of faint astronomical objects using the Astro-2 Observatory.  He made his second flight on Atlantis in 1997, docking with the Russian space station Mir.  He made his last three missions on Discovery in 1999, Columbia in 2002 and Atlantis in 2009, upgrading and servicing the Hubble Space Telescope on all three missions.  He was the Payload Commander and lead spacewalker on the missions in 2002 and 2009.  And he served as the commander and the science officer on the backup crew for Expedition 13 to the International Space Station in 2004 and 2005.

As Deputy Director at STSI John managed the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope and the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope.   He has done research on high energy astrophysics, cosmic ray physics and exoplanets, focusing especially on future astronomical instrumentation.  His doctoral work used a cosmic ray experiment on the space shuttle Challenger.

John earned his BS in Physics from MIT and his PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the National Space Club Engineer Award, the Komarov Diploma, and the Korolov Diploma. 

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