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Hubble repairsProbably the most spectacular missions of the space shuttle program involved repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Launched into orbit in 1990, the Hubble was a bust due to a mirror that was out of focus.
A space shuttle rescue team repaired the mirror in 1993 and three other shuttle missions have provided maintenance and repairs. Note the astronauts hanging from the shuttle's arm in this 1999 mission. At the time, it was feared that if the December 1999 repair mission had been delayed, it might have been derailed by the Y2K bug.
The Hubble is currently in need of further repairs but funding for a new space shuttle repair mission looks bleak.
The shuttle program may be best known for its two disasters. In 1986, the shuttle Challenger exploded during its takeoff, and in 2003 the Columbia blew apart upon reentry. Both crews were killed. This photo of the 2003 Columbia crew was processed from film found in the shuttle wreckage.
cargo baysAfter many hearings, studies and new safety measures, the space shuttle program went back to business in 2005 with a mission to resupply and change crews at the International space station.
The shuttle cargo bays have carried scientific equipment, satellites, parts and space station supplies.