Following the readiness of the James Webb Telescope suite, the launch date of this space observatory was set for the last days of 2021.
According to NASA and the European Space Agency, the launch of the James Webb Space Observatory is currently scheduled for December 18, indicating a six-week delay from previous planning. The project’s timing and costs, which have been planned since the 1990s, have steadily increased to $ 10 billion.
“Now is the day that thousands of people have been working on for years and millions of people around the world are waiting for,” said Günther Hasinger, director of the European Space Agency’s science office on the James Webb launch date.
“Thanks to the efforts made, the web and the Ariane 5 launcher are ready, and we look forward to the final preparations for launch at the European space port.”
Previously, October 31 (November 9) was set as the launch time, but it is still expected that this date will change. NASA Director of Science Thomas Zurbuchen said in June that the launch schedule seemed too complicated .
Despite completing the preparations for the James Webb Telescope , the space observatory has not yet moved from its current location in California to the European Space Agency’s launch site in Guyana, France, and estimates suggest it will take about 10 weeks from launch to launch. The Arian 5 rocket, which launches the telescope, began its journey to French Guiana in South America in mid-August, according to an ESA statement.
«Gregory L. “The Web is an exemplary mission and a demonstration of perseverance,” said Gregory L. Robinson, director of NASA’s James Webb program. Together we have overcome the technical barriers and challenges of the Corona epidemic. “We now have a telescope and a rocket ready to launch, and I look forward to the big day and its amazing scientific data.”
After launching the James Webb Space Telescope, the spacecraft will take about a month to travel 1.5 million kilometers to reach the second Lagrangian point (L2). Where the telescope can benefit from a relatively stable orbit “parking point” on the other side of the earth relative to the sun. This location is important for the telescope because it must be well protected from heat so as not to interfere with the operation of its instruments in the infrared.
According to the European Space Agency, the telescope’s instruments will not turn on for two or three months after launch, and the telescope’s main scientific activity will begin about six months after launch. Thus, we have to wait until 2022 for the telescope to open its eyes to the world.
Cover photo: Graphic design of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope by the Arian 5 rocket
Credit: D. Ducros, ESA