Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 3: Copernicus

OAO-1NASA launches the third and final Orbiting Astronomical Observatory satellite, given the nickname “Copernicus” when it successfully enters service near the 500th anniversary of the birth of the famed astronomer of the same name. OAO-3 is a joint venture between NASA and universities in the U.S. and the U.K., again focusing largely on ultraviolet observation of the sky, and it is instrumental in the discovery and study of long-period pulsars. OAO-3 will remain in service through February 1981, its successful nine-year mission lending weight to the ongoing construction and planning of NASA’s Space Telescope project, later to be known as the Hubble Space Telescope.