HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Twenty five years ago the Hubble telescope took off on board shuttle Discovery.
It is considered one of the most challenging and successful NASA missions in the history of space exploration.
"The count is about 12,700 journals have been written by scientists that have used Hubble data," said Jim Odom, project manager of Hubble during the last three years of its construction.
Odom spoke to a crowded auditorium at the Space and Rocket Center Friday as the day was taken over by all things Hubble.
He says it has exceeded all of his expectations.
"Now then, we have expectations even greater as it continues to orbit and collect data."
The trailblazing telescope is also the inspiring launchpad for today's aeronautical minds -- like that of Paul Innes, who has more in common with Hubble than an interest in space.
"I was just thinking about it on my way here," Innes said. "I'm 25 and I'm going to Hubble's birthday party, which is also 25."
"It's probably one of the reasons I'm so interested in space. If we never had Hubble, I'd never want to know 'what's past that, what's next?'"
Working on the newer Webb telescope, Innes and his partner Reed Danis are with Genesis Engineering, and have a contract with NASA. While visiting the USSRC for Hubble's celebration, they had the chance to talk with Odom and explain their up-and-coming telescope.
"I'm 25 and here I am talking to Jim [Odom]," said Innes. "That's pretty cool that there's different generations of space telescopes and the people that work on them."
The Hubble has traveled more than 3 billion miles as it orbits Earth, and has done so with no engine and no motor. The Webb telescope folds up and, when in orbit, will expand outward to the size of a tennis court.