In 1990, Hubble meant trouble. The highly touted space telescope was designed to escape Earth’s blurry atmosphere to capture unparalleled visual images of the universe, but its creators were shocked to discover that a minuscule flaw rendered it nearsighted.
Enter NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers, who offered up an ingenious solution to Hubble’s visual woes. But would it work?
Hubble wasn’t the only space misadventure getting JPL’s attention during the 1990s: The Magellan spacecraft, nicknamed “Salvage 1” for its reliance on spare parts, barely survived its arrival at Venus. Galileo, destined for Jupiter, barely skirted failure when its main communications antenna refused to unfurl. And Mars Observer, the first mission to the Red Planet in nearly two decades, would mysteriously disappear just before going into orbit.
“To the Rescue” explores these iconic examples of the tireless effort and indomitable ingenuity of JPL engineers as they attempt to rescue the machines they had lofted into the heavens.