A Brief History of Spitzer and the IRS

  • 1978
    Early discussions of an advanced infrared mission at NASA Ames.

  • 1983
    The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) launches. In a 300 day mission, IRAS surveyed 95% of the sky in several infrared colors.

  • 1984
    Cornell selected to build the Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) for an advanced infrared mission named SIRTF (for "Shuttle Infrared Telescope Facility"). Harvard was also selected to build the IRAC camera, as was The University of Arizona to build the MIPS camera for the mission.

  • 1986
    Following the Challenger disaster, SIRTF was moved off the Shuttle and renamed the "Space Infrared Telescope Facility." The IRS was redesigned.

  • 1991
    SIRTF was named the top priority for large space missions for NASA in the 1990's by the National Academy of Sciences.

  • 1993
    Following the failure of the Mars Observer, the budget was cut from $2.3B to $550M and then to $450M. The IRS was redesigned twice again.

  • 1997
    SIRTF was given a "new start."

  • 2000 (March 9)
    The IRS was delivered to JPL.

  • 2003 (January)
    SIRTF was shipped to Cape Canaveral for Launch.

  • 2003 (August 23)
    SIRTF launched, 25 years after the first meetings to discuss its design.

  • 2003 (September 12)
    The Infrared Spectrograph was turned on in space for the first time.

  • 2003 (December 18)
    SIRTF was named the Spitzer Space Telescope during a press conference at NASA headquarters.

  • 2004 (June 1)
    The first twenty papers from the IRS were accepted by the Astrophysical Journal for publication.

  • 2009
    The liquid helium was exhausted in late May, with end of the nominal mission. The warm mission begins and is still in progress as of late 2016.

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-- DonBarry - 28 Sep 2004

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