The James Webb Space Telescope has taken another important step towards its long-awaited launch. It has just completed an intense period of testing, necessary to ensure that this, which will be the most complex space observatory ever launched into orbit, is working as planned. With this stage completed, the operation of sending the telescope to the city of Kourou, in French Guiana, will now begin, where the launch will take place. Preparations for the trip should be completed in September.
At this stage, the teams will no longer be dedicated to demonstrating that the telescope will withstand launch, but rather to ensuring that it arrives safely at the base for the big day. “With the completion of integration and testing, the James Webb telescope has reached an important turning point on its path to launch,” commented Gregory L. Robinson, program director for James Webb. “We have a tremendously dedicated workforce that has taken us to the finish line, and we are very excited to see that the telescope is ready to launch and will soon be on its scientific journey,” he said.
While sending operations continue, other teams are checking the status of the communications network that the telescope will use in space, which has been showing good operation. Once in French Guiana, the launch processing teams will check that there was no damage during transport, as well as configure the telescope for the flight and accommodate it in the European Space Agency (ESA) Ariane 5 rocket for later. take you to the launch pad.
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After launch, the telescope will undergo a six-month commissioning period. After leaving the rocket, the James Webb’s solar panel will be deployed automatically, and further procedures will be initiated by ground control teams. The telescope should take a month to reach its desired location, and will slowly unfold its components as it goes along. Scientific operations are expected to begin six months after launch.
James Webb is an international program, led by NASA with partners such as ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, built on the legacy of previous missions. This will be the largest scientific observatory in the world, and will be able to answer questions about the Solar system, observe distant worlds orbiting other stars and study the origin of the universe. After a decade of delays, the launch is expected to take place in November 2021.
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