The James Webb telescope finally reaches a long-awaited point in its development: the tests have been completed and it is ready for transport and launch
It seemed that this moment would never come because NASA’s James Webb telescope has had a rather bumpy development and with setbacks, but it seems that it will finally fulfill its agenda and that it will finally be launched this year. Something for which we have more hope after knowing that James Webb has successfully passed all its tests.
NASA has confirmed that the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) has already completed this phase and that it is finally being packed up and ready to go to its launch site. A telescope that, as we discussed here, has had many eyes (and hopes) on it for a long time as it is the replacement for the ancient and heroic Hubble, still active since 1990 but with some failures (especially lately).
October is still the planned month
JWST was going to be launched neither more nor less than in 2007, but the more than fifteen delays (for very varied reasons: damage to the sun visor, cracks in membranes, etc.) have meant that in 2021 it is still on the earth’s surface. The viability of the project was even questioned, but with more than 9,500 million dollars already invested and the efforts of various teams, James Webb progressed little by little, despite so many calamities.
The US space agency explains that, with the tests completed, the transport and packaging operations now begin. The JWST must reach French Guiana, specifically Kourou, through the Panama Canal.
This preparation is not something simple in the case of a large and complex device, NASA calculating that the preparation will be completed during the month of September. In fact, the reason why it will be transported by ship is that it is so heavy (about 6,500 kilograms) that it would exceed the load limits on the bridges from the French Guiana airport to the destination space center.
As their transport preparation progresses, other teams (at the MOC, the mission operations center) continue to review (and “re-review”) the complex communications system that will be used with the JWST. And once you arrive in Kourou, the setup for the flight will begin, which will involve further checks and making sure that the entire transport process to French Guiana has gone smoothly.
Once they make sure that the structures are in good condition, it will be time to fill tanks with the fuel and compounds necessary for the engines to roar and the launch and climb maneuver to proceed without incident. The launch is still scheduled for October 31, 2021, using an Ariane 5 rocket provided by ESA.
It will take James Webb a month to reach his location in space, roughly 1,609,244 kilometers from Earth. A few days after launch, the umbrellas will be deployed so that the instruments do not overheat, and little by little the mirrors will be deployed, one of the most critical points in the launch of this colossal telescope.
So we will be waiting for the JWST to arrive in Kourou for now. Also if we have to end up calling him in another way, since in principle his baptism would be reviewed, after doubts about the involvement of the former director of NASA between 1961 and 1968 in the possible discrimination against people of the LGTBI collective.