The Institute’s Role in the History of Space Exploration
Although the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) was not established until 1981, its roots can be traced back to Dr. Lyman Spitzer’s vision for what would become the Hubble Space Telescope in a document published in 1946. This interactive timeline invites viewers to explore the role the U.S. plays in space exploration, from the launch of the world’s first satellites to the discoveries led by Hubble and other space telescopes. Many items on the page expand: Click through to read more and see additional photos and videos. As STScI hits new milestones—like the launch and beginning of operations of the James Webb Space Telescope—events will be added to cover the breaking science results.
Edwin Hubble Definitively Demonstrates the Universe Is Expanding
The astronomer convinces his peers with a landmark publication.
‘Astronomical Advantages of an Extra-terrestrial Observatory’
Lyman Spitzer publishes a report arguing for an observatory that orbits the Earth.
The Dawn of the Space Age
Explorer 1 Launches
The United States launches its first satellite.
Congress Passes the Space Act
NASA Names Nancy Grace Roman Its First Chief of Astronomy
In her role, she oversaw the planning and development of large programs, including the Hubble Space Telescope.
A Declaration to Land a Man on the Moon
NASA Launches First of Four Orbital Astronomical Observatories
A View of Earth from the Moon
Formalizing the Idea for a Space-based Telescope
U.S. Astronauts Walk on the Moon
The European Space Agency (ESA) Joins the Large Space Telescope Project
The National Academy of Sciences Publishes ‘Institutional Arrangements for the Space Telescope’
By establishing an independent institute, the authors argue, the telescope will be open to the worldwide scientific community.
Budget Approved for Space Telescope
Design of the Space Telescope Begins
The Space Telescope Science Institute Is Founded
The institute becomes the base for scientific operations for the Space Telescope.
Dedicating the Hubble Space Telescope
NASA honors the late astronomer, Edwin P. Hubble, for his groundbreaking studies by naming the space-based telescope after him.
STScI Headquarters Open
Shuttle Flights Are Grounded
NASA Space Shuttle Flights Resume
STScI Hosts the Next Generation Space Telescope Workshop
Guide Star Catalog Published
Creating a New Path for Scientific Research
The Hubble Fellowship Program provides the freedom to focus on astronomical research at universities across the U.S.
Hubble Space Telescope Is Launched and Deployed
Hubble Sees First Light
Flaw in Hubble’s Primary Mirror
STScI Convenes Hubble Strategy Panel, Recommends COSTAR
First Science Paper Based on Hubble Data Is Published
An article in the Astrophysical Journal presented findings from galaxy NGC 7457.
NASA’s Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory Launches
Astronomers Announce the First Confirmed Discovery of a Planet Orbiting a Star Other than the Sun
Providing Access to Astronomical Targets to All
Following the 1989 release of the Guide Star Catalog, STScI releases the first compressed digitized sky survey project on CD-ROM.
Correcting the Aberration
U.S. Congress Funds NASA’s Great Observatories Program
Existence of Supermassive Black Holes Confirmed
Conclusive evidence confirms existence of gravitationally collapsed objects predicted by Einstein.
Hubble Captures Collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter
Hubble Photographs Pillars of Gas and Dust in the Eagle Nebula
The iconic image of the "Pillars of Creation" exhibits the superior imaging power of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronomers Release Spectacular Color Panorama of the Orion Nebula
Hubble Deep Field: The Image that Changed Everything
Hubble Reveals the Surface of Pluto
The Dressler Report: Recommending the Next Generation Space Telescope
The HST & Beyond Committee recommends a large near-infrared telescope as the next major mission to follow Hubble.
Expanding Hubble’s View
The Next Generation Space Telescope: Ambitious, Yet Achievable
AURA publishes the “technological roadmap” to guide the development of a large-aperture infrared telescope to succeed Hubble.
A Comprehensive Data Archive Is Established
International Space Station Construction Begins
Astronomers Announce that the Universe Is Accelerating, Driven by a Mysterious Dark Energy
Measuring the Expansion Rate of the Universe
Engineering Firms and Partners Selected to Begin Studies for the Next Generation Space Telescope
NASA selects Lockheed Martin and TRW to conduct Phase A mission studies, preliminary analysis of the design, and cost. Instrument studies also include the participation of the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency, the project’s international partners.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Launches
Remodeling Hubble in Space
Astronauts upgrade the observatory with new gyros, a new computer, and other enhancements.
STScI Publishes Guide Star Catalog II
First Crew Boards the International Space Station
U.S. astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev become the first crew of the ISS.
Astronomers Announce First Direct Measurement of an Exoplanet Atmosphere
Hubble Space Telescope detects sodium in the atmosphere of a hot-Jupiter orbiting a star 150 light-years from Earth.
Making Hubble’s Instruments More Powerful
NASA Names the Next Generation Space Telescope in Honor of James E. Webb
STScI’s Founding Director Receives the Nobel Prize
Hubble Looks Further with Help from Supercluster Abell 1689
Newly installed Advanced Camera for Surveys uses the natural phenomenon of gravitational lensing to magnify distant galaxies.
Space Shuttle Columbia Breaks Apart Upon Re-entry
NASA Unveils First Detailed Image of the Infant Universe
Detailed map of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) gives unprecedented view of the afterglow of the big bang.
The Spitzer Space Telescope Launches
Hubble Ultra Deep Field
Rover Lands on Mars
Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Canceled
Construction Begins on the Next Generation Space Telescope
Space Shuttle Discovery Launches Successfully
Discovery of a Kuiper Belt Object Larger than Pluto
Initially described as the tenth planet, the discovery ignites debate about the definition of a planet.
Astronomers Announce Discovery of Convincing Evidence for Dark Matter
Hubble Captures Images of ‘Tenth Planet’ Slightly Larger Than Pluto
Pluto Is Reclassified as a Kuiper Belt Object
Hubble’s Servicing Mission Reinstated
Hubble Makes First Detection of Organic Molecules on an Exoplanet
Hubble Reaches 100,000 Orbit Milestone
Scientists Report First Direct Observation of an Exoplanet in Visible Light
NASA’s Kepler Mission Launches
The spacecraft surveyed our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of exoplanets in or near the habitable zone.
Completing the Final Hubble Servicing Mission
Astronauts install two new instruments and repair two others, enhancing the telescope.
Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS) Begins
The first of three ambitious Multi-cycle Treasury Programs commences with a comprehensive study of the early universe.
Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) Named Top Space-based Priority in Decadal Survey
WFIRST, now known as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, is designed to address a wide range of questions in astrophysics. Credit: National Academies.
Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH) Program Launches
The second of three ambitious Multi-cycle Treasury Programs begins its study of galaxies, dark matter, and dark energy.
First Private Company Successfully Launches and Lands a Spacecraft
Hubble Makes One Millionth Science Observation
NASA Ends the Space Shuttle Program
STScI Dark Energy Researcher Shares 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics
10,000th Paper Published Based on Hubble Science
MAST Renamed in Honor of U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski
eXtreme Deep Field
Hubble’s XDF image reaches much fainter galaxies and includes very deep exposures.
Water Vapor Plumes Detected on Europa
NASA’s Ambitious Frontier Fields Program Begins
Hubble Space Telescope Revisits the Iconic Pillars of Creation
Panorama of the Andromeda Galaxy Is Largest Hubble Image Ever Assembled
NASA Proceeds with Successor to the James Webb Space Telescope
WFIRST will have the same sensitivity and resolution as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope with 100 times the field of view.
Discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 Solar System
Gravitational and Light Waves Detected from the Same Celestial Event for the First Time
Cassini Spacecraft Ends Its Mission to Saturn
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Launches
The mission will catalog thousands of planet candidates.
First Image of a Black Hole
The Event Horizon Telescope captured an image of light warped around the supermassive black hole of galaxy M87. Credit: EHT Collaboration.
STScI Selected as WFIRST Science Operations Center
The contract from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center supports continued systems engineering and design, instrument and science support, and outreach.
NASA Names WFIRST in Honor of Dr. Nancy Grace Roman
The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope is named for the “Mother of Hubble” and NASA’s first Chief of Astronomy.