Proceedings PaperDevelopment Problems Of The Primary Mirror For Large Space Telescopes
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To study the stars through a large telescope above the earth's atmosphere has long been the dream of the astronomer. This dream is now in the process of coming true. The expectation of brilliant discoveries was supported by the results of early balloon and rocket flights, such as the unprecedented solar detail in the photographs from Stratoscope I and the discovery and analysis of X-ray sources in the sky by the NRL Sounding Rocket Program. Recently, unmanned satellites have provided astronomers with their first steady look at celestial objects from above the atmosphere. These include: the Goddard/Ball Bros. OSO series for spectroscopic analysis of solar UV; the Soviet Cosmos 215 with its eight 2.76 inch telescopes for studying young stars in both the UV and visible spectra; and now the Goddard/Grumman 0A0-A2, the most sophisticated to date, with 11 telescopes ranging from 8 to 16 inches. But space astronomy will finally come into its own with large aperture manned systems, which can provide the long life and high reliability required to justify the investment.