Shaping and polishing of the 94-inch-diameter (2.4-m) primary mirror for the Space Telescope has been completed at the Danbury, Connecticut, facility of the Perkin-Elmer Corp. The mirror surface has been completed to a perfection that deviates, at any point on the surface, less than one-millionth of an inch from an ideally perfect surface. The primary mirror is the main optical component of the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA), a major element of the Space Telescope.
The 12-ton unmanned telescope will be placed in circular Earth orbit by the space shuttle in early 1985 and will have an initial altitude of 600 km, putting it well above the interfering haze of Earth's atmosphere. It will enable an investigator to collect data seven times farther into space than now possible—as much as 14 billion light-years—and to observe some 350 times more volume of visible space. The telescope will be able to see stars and galaxies which are as much as 50 times fainter than can now be observed from Earth-based telescopes.