This week in 1991, space shuttle Atlantis and STS-37 launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The primary mission objective of STS-37 was to deliver NASA’s second Great Observatory, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Here, Compton is being released from Atlantis’ Remote Manipulator System arm.
The Burst and Transient Source Experiment, one of four major science instruments aboard the Compton, was designed and built by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Marshall has been involved in the development of many of the agency’s optical instruments notably, NASA’s Great Observatories. Marshall managed the development of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Marshall has also played a significant role in the testing of Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope. Scheduled to launch in October 2018, the Webb telescope will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The NASA History Program is responsible for generating, disseminating, and preserving NASA’s remarkable history and providing a comprehensive understanding of the institutional, cultural, social, political, economic, technological, and scientific aspects of NASA’s activities in aeronautics and space. For more pictures like this one and to connect to NASA’s history, visit the Marshall History Program’s webpage. (NASA)