James Webb Telescope ready for launch?

The final checks are currently being done at the Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at European Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana before its lift-off on December 18th, 2021. After many delays will be JWST be finally launched? If the launch itself goes well, the telescope will face 29 scary days towards its final destination 1.6 million kilometers from Earth in deep space. Even after the launch, the James Webb Telescope needs to do 50 adjustments. Like folding out its mirror-like origami-like structure. The telescope has been much delayed over the years due to technology challenges, the coronavirus pandemic, and other issues. With over 300 different fault points it is hoping that everything goes well.

Webb’s launch date is set for December 18, 2021, at 07:20 EST. After 12 hours after T-0, the trusters of the James Webb Telescope will take it on a 29-day journey to the second Lagrange point (L2). Once it safely reached the destination the telescope will start making observations, which can significantly change our understanding of the cosmos.

Webb will be able to see what the universe looked like around a quarter of a billion years (possibly back to 100 million years) after the Big Bang when the first stars and galaxies started to form. The mirror of the Telescope has a diameter of 6.5 meters, which is much larger than the 2.5 meters of the Hubble Telescope. The larger the mirror the more light it can capture. Now because the JWST will be located in deep space, there should also be less interference from earth. (Radiowaves are a form of light too). Meaning that the photographs and data should be even clearer.

James Webb is packed very tightly

The whole telescope is packed tightly right now, but after the launch, 3,2 minutes in the fairing will separate. At T+30 it will be completely separated from the launch carrier. After 33 minutes the solar arrays will deploy and the thrusters will fire so the James Webb will go to its destination at L2. 120 minutes later the antenna array will be deployed. Here NASA can tell if all checks are still green.

After 3 days, the forward sun-shield will open up, the telescope is now sailing to its destination on particles coming from the sun. Around 12 hours later the aft sun-shield should deploy. 6 days after launch, the mirror support structure should be folded out, making sure the mirror itself can stand up once they are deployed. After 9 to 10 days the main mirror will completely fold out. Once that is working right, the secondary mirror will be folded out after around 14 days. The whole unfolding process and checks will take 29 scary days. A lot of things can go wrong and no one can just fly out to fix anything.

In the video below you can see more of the unfolding in action:

Let us hope that the launch on December 18th will be a success and that the James Webb Telescope will change our understanding of the cosmos.

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Yhanar Taj
Yhanar Taj
8 months ago

Someone please just come and take me into space already! Thinking about it? It’s already been done. Like legit, what does a person need to be able to attend one of these😭😭… Dear author, would you be attending the launch event? If so, please tell me you’ll be streaming. Like one of those front seats. Covid has slowed down my fun for the last time. Dec 21st let’s do this!