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NASA's Webb Telescope Finally Launches Most Complex Exploration Mission Ever

Webb is 10 years late and 10 times over budget but it finally launched this morning.
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Once In Space

NASA Press Release

Please note NASA's Webb Telescope Launches to See First Galaxies, Distant Worlds

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST Saturday on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to seek the light from the first galaxies in the early universe and to explore our own solar system, as well as planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets. 

“The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel us forward into the future,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The promise of Webb is not what we know we will discover; it’s what we don’t yet understand or can’t yet fathom about our universe. I can’t wait to see what it uncovers!”

The world’s largest and most complex space science observatory will now begin six months of commissioning in space. At the end of commissioning, Webb will deliver its first images. Webb carries four state-of-the-art science instruments with highly sensitive infrared detectors of unprecedented resolution. Webb will study infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity than ever before. The premier mission is the scientific successor to NASA’s iconic Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, built to complement and further the scientific discoveries of these and other missions.

“The launch of the Webb Space Telescope is a pivotal moment – this is just the beginning for the Webb mission,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA Headquarters. “Now we will watch Webb’s highly anticipated and critical 29 days on the edge. When the spacecraft unfurls in space, Webb will undergo the most difficult and complex deployment sequence ever attempted in space. Once commissioning is complete, we will see awe-inspiring images that will capture our imagination.”

The telescope’s revolutionary technology will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, to everything in between. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

James Webb Space Telescope Launches Successfully After Years of Delay

Webb Telescope

The WSJ reports James Webb Space Telescope Launches Successfully After Years of Delay

Shortly after launch, the telescope successfully separated from the rocket and deployed its solar array so that it can begin generating electricity and charging its batteries, NASA said. Within the next 24 hours, plans call for mission scientists to command Webb to course-correct using on-board rockets so that it heads toward a point four times as distant as the moon called the second Lagrange point.

Then, complicated unfolding processes will begin, taking about two weeks to complete. Seventy hinges, 90 cables, 140 releases and 400 pulleys will be involved in unfolding the telescope’s tennis court-size sunshield by issuing commands to Webb from Earth. Webb will then open the two wings of its primary mirror and lock them in place.

If all goes well, Webb can start conducting its first science experiments about six months after launch and is expected to produce its first photo this summer. It takes that long to completely unfold and align its mirrors, calibrate its cameras and infrared light spectrographs, and cool the telescope to its operating temperature. The telescope was jointly developed by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

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That is a copy free link with a fascinating video and a lot of pictures. 

Enjoy!

Here is another link with 12 Images of the Webb Telescope. That link may be protected.

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