NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Launch on December 18

James Webb Space Telescope - The Scientific Triangle

Read this post to learn more about the much awaited NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch. Scheduled for launch on December 18, 2021, the Webb is all set to succeed Hubble.

The James Webb Space Telescope launch date is set to December 18, 2021. NASA is busy preparing for the launch of Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope into orbit by the end of this year. The Webb Space Telescope is now going to be the primary deep space observatory for the following decade. The Webb, formerly the Next Generation Space Telescope, was renamed after James Webb, NASA’s former administrator.

JWST is a joint venture between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. The Goddard Space Flight Centre of NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland was responsible for managing the construction of the James Webb Space Telescope. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman is the major industrial partner. Post-launch, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore would be handling operations of the Webb as it did for Hubble.

It is ready to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope which experienced a major payload malfunction leading to the suspension of operations on June 13, 2021. NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission’s began in the year 1990 with the launch of the world’s most powerful optical telescope back then – the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble’s programme was initiated at NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. The $1.2 billion observatory was then expected to explore space like never before and collect an unimaginable amount of data.

Now the Webb is here to carry on more advanced space research and data collection. Development and construction of the JWST commenced in 1996 which was back then scheduled for an early launch date in 2007. With an initial budget of 500 million USD, the project underwent several delays due to massive design changes in 2005. The construction of the Webb Space Telescope was completed towards the later part of 2016. However, a few more hassles and hiccups along with the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak led to the delay of the launch. By December 2020, the sun shield of the fully integrated James Webb Space Agency completed its final rounds of testing and approvals.

Finally, on September 8, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope launch date was announced by NASA & ESA to be December 18, 2021. Cost overruns pushed the cost of development to approximately 10 billion USD. The new official launch date was declared by the space agencies after they completed several tests successfully. The ESA reportedly confirmed finishing with tests on August 26, 2021. Webb’s testing was carried out at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in California. At that time, the ESA also said that they were preparing the Webb for shipment to its launch location. The launch will happen from the European Spaceport on the northeastern coast in French Guiana.

James Webb Space Telescope - The Scientific Triangle
Image Credit: JWST NASA
NASA preparing for the James Webb Space Telescope December launch

Once JWST arrives at the European Spaceport, the launch processing teams would carry out the post-shipment inspections. Then, the team will load the spacecraft’s propellant tanks with fuel. Post this, the team of engineers will configure the observatory for flight. The Webb will shoot into orbit on ESA’s Ariane 5 rocket. They would also carry out rehearsals for the launch process two days in advance from the scheduled date of launch. The launch campaign would be in effect for 70 days.

Numerous experts, scientists, technicians, and engineers are part of the construction, testing, and launch of the Webb. A total of 258 companies, universities, and agencies from the US, 12 nations of Europe, and Canada have participated in the making of JWST.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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