The phone call came like a bolt out of the blue, so to speak, in January of 2011. On the other end of the line was someone from the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the nation’s fleet of spy satellites. They had some spare unused “hardware” to get rid of. Was NASA interested?
And so it was that when John Grunsfeld, the physicist and former astronaut, walked into his office a year later to start his new job as NASA’s associate administrator for space science, he discovered that his potential armada was a bit bigger than he knew. Sitting in a clean room in upstate New York were a pair of space telescopes the same size as the famed Hubble Space Telescope, but which had been built to point down at the Earth instead of up at the heavens.