If it weren’t for the Hubble telescope, our selection of dope images for lock screens and desktop backgrounds would be far scantier. Thankfully, NASA’s omnipresent orbiter has been snapping celestial photos for a good quarter century—but its construction actually began way earlier, back in the late 70s, continuing throughout the next decade.

These images show Hubble in its earlier days—back when it was still just an ambitious project under construction. Since shipping to space on April 24, 1990, it’s captured hundreds of thousands of images—including iconic discoveries like the Pillars of Creation—and has fundamentally shaped the way we see the universe. Not bad for disco-era hardware.

The Conversation pointed out this photo of Hubble’s 8-foot diameter Primary Mirror being polished in 1979. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Early construction in 1980 at a Lockheed Martin plant. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Engineers inspect Hubble’s Primary Mirror in 1981. Source: Wikimedia Commons


The solar panels used to power the ‘scope are inspected in 1985. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Hubble’s skeleton being assembled at Lockheed. Source: NASA


Basking in the main mirror. 1990. Source: NASA


Large and in charge. Source: NASA


Prepping for launch at Kennedy Space Center. Source: NASA


And voila, the finished product, seen here during a servicing mission in 2009. Decades later and still rockin’ it. Keep that astral eye candy coming, Hubble.

(images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

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