James Webb Telescope Now Available

James Webb Telescope
James Webb Telescope

Getting the James Webb Telescope Now Available has been a hassle, and NASA has now officially completed work on the James Webb Space Telescope. Follow-up and development for Hubble since the late 1990s has cost up to $10 billion. But it's only months away from launch, and it's French Guiana where it will leave Earth behind forever.

The Hubble Telescope performed amazingly, but even with constant monitoring and hardware redundancy, the device didn't have much time left. The last Hubble shuttle mission took place in 2009, and problems have become more frequent, such as a few months ago when the observatory was down due to a power supply failure. When deployed, the Webb Telescope will be able to pick up where Hubble left off and look at farther, dimmer objects, thanks to its 6,5-metre Korsch-style split mirror. The mirror is so large that it has to be folded up to fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that ESA will launch into space.

NASA Performs Engineering Checks on James Webb's Systems

NASA says Webb has completed all engineering checks on its systems and the hardware is fully assembled. The next job is to prepare him for his ocean voyage to the launch site. Upon arrival, crews will also raise multiple bright red flags that read “remove before flight” on the instrument to ensure it survives the trip. These are components that act as protective covers for sensitive components during assembly and testing. Ground crews will also feed Webb with hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer, which he will use to maintain his position during the operation.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

The complexity of the project increased the overall cost by 1997 times from the $500 million NASA proposed in 20. The cost has increased from year to year, only slightly decreasing over the last few budget cycles as the work is completed. The launch date has been delayed multiple times, including three different dates in 2021. Currently, Webb is scheduled to launch in late 2021, but there is no firm date. The previous Halloween timeline was the official deadline, so now we're looking at November or December.

After reaching orbit, Webb will deploy the solar arrays and wait for commands from the ground. NASA will spend several weeks getting the systems online and running tests, and then Webb will head out to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point, also known as L2. At this location, almost a million miles from Earth, the telescope will expand its sunscreen and spend several months cooling off. If all goes as planned, the cooled Webb telescope will be able to peer deep into the infrared, observing more detail than Hubble could.

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