from the better-nate-than-lever dept.
The telescope is ready. So is the rocket. It's time.
NASA announced in August that the James Webb Space Telescope had passed its final ground-based tests and was being prepared for shipment to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. Now, the oft-delayed $10 billion telescope has an official launch date: December 18, 2021.
The date was announced on Wednesday by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the launch provider, Arianespace. The space telescope will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket.
NASA's long-awaited and high-powered James Webb Space Telescope won't begin observations this year after NASA and its counterpart the European Space Agency (ESA) announced another launch delay.
[...] "We now know the day that thousands of people have been working towards for many years, and that millions around the world are looking forward to," Günther Hasinger, ESA's director of science, said in an agency statement. "Webb and its Ariane 5 launch vehicle are ready, thanks to the excellent work across all mission partners. We are looking forward to seeing the final preparations for launch at Europe's Spaceport."
[...] Once the James Webb Space Telescope launches, the spacecraft will spend about a month traveling the 930,000 miles (1.5 kilometers) out to its destination, the second Lagrange point (L2)[*]. Here, the observatory can enjoy a relatively stable "parking spot" orbit on the opposite side of Earth from the sun. The location is crucial for the telescope, which must remain well shielded from the heat that would interfere with the infrared capabilities on the observatory.
The telescope's instruments won't turn on until two or three months after launch, and typical science won't begin until about six months after launch, according to ESA.
Hopefully all will go well with the launch and deployment.
The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch on Saturday (Dec. 25) during a 32-minute window that opens at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT). The massive observatory will blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket operated by European launch provider Arianespace. You can watch launch coverage live at Space.com beginning at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) courtesy of NASA or you can watch directly at the agency's website.
ESA launch kit (PDF).
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