Nancy Grace Roman, known as the "mother" of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA, died on Christmas Day.
Cousin, Laura Verreau, confirmed that Roman had died after a prolonged illness. He is 93 years old.
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As the first head of astronomy at the space science office at NASA headquarters, Roman has oversight of the planning and development of programs such as the Cosmic Background Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope, according to NASA.
"During the 1960s and early 1970s, no one at NASA was more important in getting the first design and concept to be funded and completed by Hubble," wrote space historian Robert Zimmerman in "The Universe in a Mirror," a Hubble's creation report, according to The Washington Post. "More importantly, that [Dr. Roman] more than anyone who convinced the astronomical community to get behind space astronomy. "
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Roman received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949 and joined NASA in 1959. He completed his NASA career at Goddard Space Flight Center where he served as manager of the Astronomy Data Center.
After retiring from NASA in 1979, Roman continued to work as a contractor at Goddard. Throughout his career, he encouraged women and young people to get involved in science.
In 2017, Lego released a set of statues in honor of four NASA pioneering women, one of whom was Roman.
"I am happy," he once told Science magazine, "I ignored many people who told me that I could not become an astronomer."
Warning services are being planned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.