Space

James Webb Space Telescope completes its final testing phase

James Webb Space Telescope com...
The James Webb Space Telescope has finally finished its testing regime and is getting ready for launch
The James Webb Space Telescope has finally finished its testing regime and is getting ready for launch
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The James Webb Space Telescope has finally finished its testing regime and is getting ready for launch
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The James Webb Space Telescope has finally finished its testing regime and is getting ready for launch
The James Webb Space Telescope will now be packed into a transport container to ship it from California to South America for launch
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The James Webb Space Telescope will now be packed into a transport container to ship it from California to South America for launch

We don’t want to count our chickens just yet, but it looks like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) might actually launch in October, for real this time. The perennially delayed instrument has completed its final tests and is now being prepped for shipment to the launch facility.

Originally due to launch in 2007, the JWST underwent a drastic redesign and was given a new launch window of between 2015 and 2018. That later slipped to June 2019, then May 2020, then March 2021, and most recently to October 2021, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Not to jinx it, but it’s looking like this latest launch date might actually stick.

NASA has finally given the telescope the green light for launch, having put it through years of tests and checkpoints to make sure that it will operate properly once it gets up there. After all, the JWST is bound for the second Lagrange Point in the Earth/Sun system almost a million miles away, so unlike Hubble, astronauts won’t be able to swing by for repairs and upgrades.

After the JWST aced all of its tests, engineers folded up its sunshield pallets, stowed the central tower, and locked it all together ready to be placed in a transporter container. These preparations, due to be completed in September, will get it ready to begin the next leg of its journey.

The James Webb Space Telescope will now be packed into a transport container to ship it from California to South America for launch
The James Webb Space Telescope will now be packed into a transport container to ship it from California to South America for launch

But that’s not space just yet – first it has to travel from the Northrop Grumman facilities in California to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America. Once there, it will be packed into the Ariane 5 launch vehicle fairing, ready to leave Earth after all these years.

When it’s finally up and running, the James Webb Space Telescope will scan the cosmos in infrared for at least a decade, providing a deeper look in space and back in time than ever before. It will study the earliest light in the universe, peer closer at exoplanets, and give us our best shot yet at finding the first evidence of life beyond Earth.

The final preparations for the JWST's journey can be seen in the video below.

Social Media Short: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Completes Testing

Source: NASA

7 comments
7 comments
Ornery Johnson
I've been waiting so long to see this thing start doing science that the idea of putting it on a rocket makes me quiver...both with excitement and extreme nervousness!
Chris Coles
We must all hope that the launch goes well and delivers The James Webb Telescope to it's chosen final location; that it opens up successfully and delivers to humanity its designed vision of the full universe that surrounds us. In turn, may I say thank you; to everyone involved; you accepted a great challenge and have delivered magnificently.
Zerozen
It's scary! all in one basket, no backup, almost a decade in a making and it will be deployed far from Earth's traditional reach at 2nd Langrange point.
michael_dowling
Chris Coles: Yes,I hope the launch goes well. The Ariane 5 is veteran of space launches since June 96 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariane_5
Cryptonoetic
I'm not prepared to buy the "it's too far away to fix" argument. A million miles is four times the distance to the moon. Far, but still next door compared to Mars. I believe it's entirely probable (not just possible) that a fully kitted Starship could do a month long mission (there and back with time on station) to effect any needed repairs. Elon, if I'm wrong about that, feel free to set me straight.
WB
Why not use a space x rocket ..closer and cheaper and more reliable
piperTom
All the pictures and the video show JWST in a room with people. That means it's considerably warmer than the -233 °C operating temperature. SO, was any testing done in the chill? If not, I expect trouble.