James Webb Space Telescope being readied for launch
After more than two decades of development, NASA’s ambitious James Webb Space Telescope is finally at the launch site being prepared for its trip into space.
The Webb telescope is slated to launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency’s spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:10 a.m. EDT (12:10 UTC) Dec. 18, 2021.
The telescope arrived intact Oct. 12, 2021, at Pariacabo harbor in French Guiana after traveling from California aboard the MN Colibri and sailing through the Panama Canal.
To ensure a safe passage for the ship, the shallow waters of the Kourou River were dredged prior to the transport’s arrival during high tide.
Next up for the ESA-NASA collaboration include teams of processing technicians performing check-outs of systems on the James Webb Space Telescope after its trip on the MN Colibri and loading the spacecraft’s propellant tanks with fuel.
Prior to shipping, the telescope also underwent testing at Northrop Grumman facilities in California.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will complement the Hubble Space Telescope, not replace it, as its capabilities are not identical.
The Webb telescope’s primary purpose is to study the universe in the infrared. Hubble studies it primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths enhanced by some infrared capabilities.
One of the telescope’s most significant aspects is its 21-foot-wide primary mirror that will determine how much light the device can collect as it peers into the universe.
The mirror itself is composed of 18 separate hexagon segments that will unfold after launch with each mirror covered in a microscopically thin layer of gold.
The James Webb satellite was funded in 1996 with a budget of $500 million. Cost overruns and delays to the spacecraft and project, which was originally scheduled to launch in 2007 and received a major redesign in 2005, has finished with a cost of $8.8 billion.
After launch, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore will operate the telescope.
Video courtesy of NASA
Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.