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posted by martyb on Saturday December 25 2021, @11:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the this-time-for-sure! dept.

James Webb Space Telescope reaches launch pad for Christmas liftoff

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).

Previously:


Original Submission

Related Stories

JWST Primary Mirror Starting To Come Together 6 comments

The primary mirror for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will consist of 18 separate mirror segments. The optics for the primary is now finally coming together with the mounting of the first mirror segment . Assembly of the full primary will occur over the next year and the curious can watch it come together minute-by-minute on the JWST Webbcams. Those wanting to see faster progress can break out their Benny Hill music[*] and watch JWST Time-Lapse movies.


[*] The tune is actually Yakety Sax.

Original Submission

New Space Telescope's Giant Gold Mirror Unveiled (April 29th) 13 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope (what could maybe be called a 'better Hubble telescope') is due to be launched in 2018.

Its primary mirror spans 6.5 metres, compared to Hubble's 2.5, giving it seven times more light-gathering power. It will also gather from the infrared spectrum instead of gathering visible light: this will allow it to 'see' past clouds of dust, to gather more information about the beginning of the universe.

It will NOT be fixable like the Hubble, though. It is going to be sitting out at L2 (Lagrange point 2 of the Earth-Sun system) which is 1,500,000 kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth, directly opposite to the Sun. At this point, with the Earth, moon and sun behind it, the spacecraft can get a clear view of deep space.

Where exactly is L2 for the Earth-Sun system? You can work it out for yourself (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point#L2)

or look at pretty pictures
1. http://webbtelescope.org/webb_telescope/technology_at_the_extremes/graphics/fig-4-webb-orbit-big.jpg
2. http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/overview/design/orbit1.jpg

Why do you have to state 'L2 for the Earth-Sun system'?

[Continues...]

James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed 5 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) remains on track for an October 2018 launch:

JWST passed its final vibration testing Tuesday ensuring that the craft is finally fit for spaceflight. NASA has scheduled the telescope for an October 2018 launch, but the telescope was originally supposed to be launched in 2011 marking a long history of major cost overruns and delays.

NASA announced last December that the JWST was halfway completed, but the project is currently $7.2 billion over its initial budget and seven years behind the original schedule. The JWST was initially projected to cost $1.6 billion. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) now estimates the final cost of the telescope at $8.8 billion.

[...] During vibration testing in December at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, accelerometers attached to the telescope detected "unexpected responses" and engineers were forced to shut the test down to protect the hardware. The kind of response NASA found could potentially create serious problems when the telescope is launched into space.


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019 9 comments

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed yet again:

The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been rescheduled to occur sometime between March and June 2019 from French Guiana. The delay follows a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities that need to occur prior to launch. The JWST was previously scheduled to launch in October 2018. "The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington, said in a NASA press release. "Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected."

The change in launch window request has been coordinated with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is providing the Ariane 5 launch vehicle for the JWST. As part of an agreement with ESA, NASA recently conducted a routine schedule assessment to ensure launch preparedness and determined that a reschedule was necessary.

While testing of the telescope and science instruments at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, continues to go well and remain on schedule, the spacecraft itself, made up of the spacecraft bus and sunshield, has experienced delays during its integration and testing at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California. "Webb's spacecraft and sunshield are larger and more complex than most spacecraft," said Eric Smith, program director for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The combination of some integration activities taking longer than initially planned, such as the installation of more than 100 sunshield membrane release devices, factoring in lessons learned from earlier testing, like longer time spans for vibration testing, has meant the integration and testing process is just taking longer. Considering the investment NASA has made, and the good performance to date, we want to proceed very systematically through these tests to be ready for a Spring 2019 launch."

An upside? A better chance of being prepared to image Planet Nine during the 5-10 year operating life of JWST.

Also at NASA.


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed 33 comments

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is warning of possible further delays to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

A government watchdog is warning that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the long-awaited successor to the Hubble that's been beset by schedule snafus and cost overruns, might face further delays. NASA announced in September it had pushed back the launch date of the JWST from late 2018 to some time in the spring of 2019 due to testing delays partly blamed on Hurricane Harvey's impact on Texas' Gulf Coast in August.

On Wednesday, lawmakers on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee were told it could take even longer to launch the world's most powerful telescope. "More delays are possible given the risks associated with the work ahead and the level of schedule reserves that are now (below) what's recommended," said Cristina Chaplain, director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management for the Government Accountability Office.

[...] Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science missions, told lawmakers he expects the space agency will be able to meet the spring 2019 schedule. "I believe it's achievable," he said.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019

Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
NASA Unlikely to Have Enough Plutonium-238 for Missions by the Mid-2020s
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs


Original Submission

JWST: Too Big to Fail? 85 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an infrared space observatory with an $8.8 billion budget, will be transported to South America to launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket, presumably in Spring 2019. The JWST was not intended to be serviceable at the Earth-Sun L2 point. Will there still be a "Golden Age of astronomy" even if the JWST fails?

[Due] to its steadily escalating cost and continually delayed send-off (which recently slipped from 2018 to 2019), this telescopic time machine is now under increasingly intense congressional scrutiny. To help satisfy any doubts about JWST's status, the project is headed for an independent review as soon as January 2018, advised NASA's science chief Thomas Zurbuchen during an early December congressional hearing. Pressed by legislators about whether JWST will actually launch as presently planned in spring of 2019, he said, "at this moment in time, with the information that I have, I believe it's achievable."

[...] Simply launching JWST is fraught with peril, not to mention unfurling its delicate sunshield and vast, segmented mirror in deep space. Just waving goodbye to JWST atop its booster will be a nail-biter. "The truth is, every single rocket launch off of planet Earth is risky. The good news is that the Ariane 5 has a spectacular record," says former astronaut John Grunsfeld, a repeat "Hubble hugger" who made three space-shuttle visits to low-Earth orbit to renovate that iconic facility. Now scientist emeritus at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, he sees an on-duty JWST as cranking out science "beyond all of our expectations."

"Assuming we make it to the injection trajectory to Earth-Sun L2, of course the next most risky thing is deploying the telescope. And unlike Hubble we can't go out and fix it. Not even a robot can go out and fix it. So we're taking a great risk, but for great reward," Grunsfeld says.

GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again) 16 comments

The U.S. Government Acountability [sic] Office (GAO) has warned that the launch of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is likely to be delayed again, which could cause the budget cap set by the U.S. Congress to be exceeded:

The U.S. Government Acountability [sic] Office (GAO), a non-partisan group that investigates federal spending and performance, has issued a report on the James Webb Space Telescope that has astronomers worried. "It's likely the launch date will be delayed again," the report concludes — an ominous statement, given that any further delays could risk project cancellation.

Last year NASA announced a delay in the telescope's launch to sometime between March and June 2019. The 5- to 8-month delay came from problems integrating spacecraft components, especially its complex, five-layered sunshield, which must unfold perfectly when the telescope is deployed. Right after requesting the change in launch readiness date, the mission learned of further delays from its contractor, Northrum Grumman, due to "lessons learned from conducting deployment exercises of the spacecraft element and sunshield."

The mission now has 1.5 months of schedule reserve remaining, the GAO finds. Delays during integration and testing are common, "the phase in development where problems are most likely to be found and schedules tend to slip." The project has a total of five phases of integration and testing, and has made significant progress on phases three and four, with the fifth phase beginning in July.

GAO's 31-page report, February 2018: JWST: Integration and Test Challenges Have Delayed Launch and Threaten to Push Costs Over Cap.

Also at Science Magazine.

Previously: Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed

Related: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
NASA Considering Flagship Space Telescope Options for the 2030s
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap 33 comments

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been delayed yet again, due to damage to the spacecraft's thrusters, sunshield, and tension cables:

The slip is not exactly surprising, even though construction and testing of Webb's primary mirror and scientific instruments—its riskiest, most expensive elements—is already complete. These components were delivered in early February to Webb's prime contractor, the aerospace company Northrop Grumman, for further testing and integration with the rest of the telescope. But later that month a report from the Government Accountability Office warned that the company had fallen behind schedule on the supposedly easier parts of the observatory. Valves on the spacecraft's thrusters had sprung leaks after being improperly cleaned, and replacing them had taken the better part of a year. Webb's tennis-court-sized, five-layered folding "sunshield" had also been torn during a test as it unfurled, requiring time-consuming failure analyses and repairs.

NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members 3 comments

NASA announces James Webb Space Telescope Independent Review Board members

NASA recently announced the formation of an external Independent Review Board for the space agency's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The board will study a variety of factors impacting the mission's success and reinforce NASA's strategy for completing the observatory's final integration and testing phase, launch phase and commissioning.

"We are exploring every aspect of Webb's final testing and integration to ensure a successful mission, delivering on its scientific promise," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a NASA news release. "This board's input will provide a higher level of confidence in the estimated time needed to successfully complete the highly complex tasks ahead before NASA defines a specific launch time frame."

According to NASA, the board includes individuals with expertise and experience in program management, schedule and cost management, systems engineering and the integration and testing of large and complex space systems, science instrumentation, unique flight hardware and missions with science objectives similar to Webb.

[...] According to NASA, the members of the Independent Review Board are:

Screws and Washers Have Fallen Off JWST Amid Testing and Independent Review 32 comments

JWST suffers new problem during spacecraft testing

In a presentation at a meeting of the National Academies' Space Studies Board here May 3, Greg Robinson, the JWST program director at NASA Headquarters, said some "screws and washers" appear to have come off the spacecraft during recent environmental testing at a Northrop Grumman facility in Southern California. Technicians found the items after the spacecraft element of JWST, which includes the bus and sunshield but not its optics and instruments, was moved last weekend from one chamber for acoustics tests to another to prepare for vibration testing.

"Right now we believe that all of this hardware — we're talking screws and washers here — come from the sunshield cover," he said. "We're looking at what this really means and what is the recovery plan." The problem, he said, was only a couple of days old, and he had few additional details about the problem. "It's not terrible news, but it's not good news, either," he said. The incident, Robinson argued, showed the importance of the wide range of tests the spacecraft is put through prior to launch. "That's why we do the testing," he said. "We do it now, we find it now, we fix it and we launch a good spacecraft."

This latest incident comes as an independent review board, chartered by NASA in late March after announcing a one-year delay in JWST's launch because of other technical issues, is in the midst of its analysis of the mission and its launch readiness. That review, led by retired aerospace executive and former NASA Goddard director Tom Young, is scheduled to be completed at the end of the month.

NASA is expected to brief Congress on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope in late June.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again)
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap
NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members

Related: Northrop Grumman's Faulty Payload Adapter Reportedly Responsible for "Zuma" Failure


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time to March 2021, Cost at $9.66 Billion 17 comments

Remember the JWST? Yup:

NASA has again delayed the launch of its next-generation space observatory, known as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the space agency announced today. The telescope now has a new launch date of March 30th, 2021. It's the second delay to the project's timeline this year, and the third in the last nine months.

"We're all disappointed that the culmination of Webb and its launch is taking longer than expected, but we're creating something new here. We're dealing with cutting edge technology to perform an unprecedented mission, and I know that our teams are working hard and will successfully overcome the challenges," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video statement. "In space we always have to look at the long term, and sometimes the complexities of our missions don't come together as soon as we wish. But we learn, we move ahead, and ultimately we succeed."

NASA pushed the launch of JWST, which is viewed as a more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, from 2019 to 2020 in March of this year. At the same time the space agency also convened an independent review board to assess the future of the project, which is running the risk of blowing by an $8 billion cost cap set by NASA in 2011. Going beyond that cost cap would mean that Congress has to reauthorize the program.

NASA Administrator at House Hearing: WFIRST Could be Delayed to Help Pay for JWST 13 comments

At a two-part hearing discussing the future of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine proposed reducing the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope's (WFIRST) budget by about a third in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to help fund the cost-overrun JWST:

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said July 25 that, in order to address the delays and cost overruns with the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency may seek to slow down development of another flagship astrophysics mission.

Testifying before the House Science Committee in the first half of a two-part hearing on JWST, Bridenstine suggested that slowing down work on the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) until after JWST is launched could be a way to deal with JWST's increased cost while maintaining a "balanced portfolio" of large and small astrophysics programs.

"The idea of WFIRST presumed that JWST would be on orbit and delivering science," he said. "So it is my recommendation that we move forward with WFIRST after we move forward with JWST."

"It is true we can do some development now. I'm not saying that we need to shut down WFIRST, and we shouldn't do it," he added. "What I'm saying is there's opportunity here."

The second part of the hearing will involve questioning of Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush on the 26th.

See also: NASA's next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors

Previously: WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST
House Spending Bill Offers NASA More Money Than the Agency or Administration Wanted
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time to March 2021, Cost at $9.66 Billion


Original Submission

NASA Ominously Chooses Halloween 2021 to Launch Long-Delayed Space Telescope 11 comments

NASA Ominously Chooses Halloween 2021 to Launch Long-Delayed Space Telescope:

NASA hopes to launch the much-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope [(JWST)] from French Guiana on October 31, 2021, the agency announced today. Ongoing technical challenges and the covid-19 pandemic were cited as reasons for the latest delay to the project.

[...] The new date—October 31, 2021—represents a seven-month delay from the most recent launch target of March 2021 atop an Ariane 5 rocket.

[...] James Webb is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which is now 30 years old. The project is currently in the integration and testing phase of development, the final phase before it gets transported to French Guiana. Once in space, some million miles away from Earth, Webb will use its infrared telescope to observe some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, study star-forming nebulae, and even scan the atmospheres of distant exoplanets.

[...] At a NASA press conference earlier today, Gregory Robinson, JWST program director, said the decision to move the launch from March 2021 to October 2021 had to do with lingering development challenges and hardships imposed by the covid-19 pandemic. NASA, he said, was planning to re-evaluate the project's schedule margins prior to covid-19, but the pandemic forced the issue, resulting in yet another delay.

When asked to account for the seven-month delay, Robinson said three months had to do with covid-19 and two months had to do with existing technical issues, such as pending vibration testing, a review of the telescope's new sunshield, risk-reduction measures, among other outstanding tasks. The remaining two months were added as a buffer, said Robinson.

NASA's press release.


Original Submission

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Passes Crucial Launch-Simulation Tests 8 comments

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope passes crucial launch-simulation tests:

NASA's next big space telescope just took another step toward its highly anticipated 2021 launch.

The $9.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has passed "environmental testing," a series of trials designed to simulate the considerable rigors of launch, NASA officials announced today (Oct. 6).

"The successful completion of our observatory environmental tests represent[s] a monumental milestone in the march to launch," Webb project manager Bill Ochs, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said today in a statement. "Environmental testing demonstrates Webb's ability to survive the rocket ride to space, which is the most violent portion of its trip to orbit approximately a million miles from Earth."


Original Submission

James Webb Passes Critical Mission Review for 2021 Launch, Final Testing Nearing Completion 8 comments

Posted on NASA Spaceflight, James Webb Space Telescope one step closer to launch.

The joint NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has passed its critical final mission analysis review — clearing the way for a late 2021 launch from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket.

With this review completed, Arianespace and JWST teams can now begin final launch preparations. With a launch readiness date of October 31, 2021, Webb will soon be transported to French Guiana where it will be mated with its designated Ariane 5 rocket.

The mission analysis review, carried out by Arianespace and ESA, confirms that all launch systems — such as the telescope, rocket, ground systems, and launch teams — are set for launch. The review also confirms that Webb itself and its flight plan are ready for the mission to begin.

“We are thrilled to have passed this important step towards the launch of Webb and to have received the green light from Arianespace and NASA,” says Peter Rumler. Rumler is the project manager for the JWST at ESA.

When the telescope launches, it will experience a wide range of forces, such as vibrations and temperature changes and radiation. Therefore, Arianespace performed technical evaluations on important milestones of the mission’s ascent for the review, such as the launch trajectory and separation of the telescope from the rocket’s upper stage.

About time, since Hubble may be dead.


Original Submission

The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's Next Great Observatory, Passes Final Ground Tests 13 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's next great observatory, passes final ground tests:

NASA and its partners working on the James Webb Space Telescope have completed their final tests of the giant observatory and are now preparing it for a trip to a South American spaceport for a launch later this year.

Conceived more than 30 years ago as a successor of the then new Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb will be the largest observatory ever to be put in orbit. It is designed to use its infrared eyes to peer further into the universe's history than ever before. With its 6.5-meter in diameter gold-plated mirror, the telescope will attempt to answer questions about the formation of first stars and galaxies out of the darkness of the early universe.

At 44 feet (13.2 meters) long and 14 feet (4.2 m) wide, the telescope is about the size of a large tractor-trailer truck, fitted with intricate sun shades that could cover a tennis court once unfolded.

The program faced many delays, not just due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but seems finally on track to start producing ground-breaking astronomical observations. The testing, which took place at the facilities of prime contractor Northrop Grumman in California, made sure that nothing would go wrong with the more than $10 billion spacecraft during launch and once in space.

"NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major turning point on its path toward launch with the completion of final observatory integration and testing," Gregory Robinson, Webb's program director at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. "We have a tremendously dedicated workforce who brought us to the finish line, and we are very excited to see that Webb is ready for launch and will soon be on that science journey."


Original Submission

The James Webb Telescope has a Launch Date 9 comments

The James Webb telescope has a bona fide launch date:

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 James Webb Space Telescope launch delayed to December:

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.

[*] Wikipedia entry on Lagrange points and the specific entry on L2.

Hopefully all will go well with the launch and deployment.


Original Submission

James Webb Telescope: Preparations Resume for December 22 Launch 13 comments

https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/about/launch.html

Webb's launch date is set for December 22, 2021 07:20 EST.

Launch Vehicle

The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch vehicle is part of the European contribution to the mission. The Ariane 5 is one of the world's most reliable launch vehicles capable of delivering Webb to its destination in space. The European Space Agency (ESA) has agreed to provide an Ariane 5 launcher and associated launch services to NASA for Webb.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59419110

The telescope will be able to see just about anything in the sky. However, it has one overriding objective - to see the light coming from the very first stars to shine in the Universe.

These pioneer stars are thought to have switched on about 100-200 million years after the Big Bang, or a little over 13.5 billion years ago.

Webb will be picking out groupings of these stars. They are so far away, their light - even though it moves at 300,000km (186,000 miles) per second - will have taken billions of years to travel the cosmos.

It should be possible for Webb to see (or least detect a faint glow from) the moment when the darkness ended and those first stars flickered into life.

https://earthsky.org/space/james-webb-telescope-hubble-successor-to-launch/

Countdown resumes for December 22 launch

[...] NASA said today that engineering teams have completed additional testing confirming the James Webb Space Telescope is ready for flight. And that means launch preparations are resuming. The Webb's target launch date is now, officially, December 22 at 7:20 a.m. EST (00:20 UTC). NASA said in a statement:

Additional testing was conducted this week to ensure the observatory's health following an incident that occurred when the release of a clamp band caused a vibration throughout the observatory.

On Wednesday, November 24, engineering teams completed these tests, and a NASA-led anomaly review board concluded no observatory components were damaged in the incident. A "consent to fuel" review was held. And NASA gave approval to begin fueling the observatory. Fueling operations will begin Thursday, November 25, and will take about 10 days.

See also: https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/11/james-webb-space-telescope-cleared-for-late-december-launch/ suggested by Mockingbird


Original Submission

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Fully Fueled for Launch 15 comments

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is fueled up for its Dec. 22 launch:

The new James Webb Space Telescope is topped off and one step closer to taking flight.

Mission team members have finished fueling the James Webb Space Telescope at[sic] ahead of its planned Dec. 22 launch from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, the European Space Agency announced Monday (Dec. 6). The fueling for Webb, which is an international collaborative effort between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, took 10 days and was completed on Dec. 3, according to the ESA statement.

After a series of delays since the development of the scope first began in 1996, Webb is still on track to finally launch Dec. 22 atop an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

"Webb's propellant tanks were filled separately with [21 gallons] 79.5 l of dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer and [42 gallons] 159 l hydrazine," the ESA wrote in the announcement, adding that the oxidizer "improves the burn efficiency of the hydrazine fuel."

Now that Webb is fueled, the mission team will begin "combined operations," according to the statement. In this phase, the teams behind the rocket and the telescope will come together to mount Webb on the Ariane 5 rocket and encapsulate it within the rocket's fairing. The newly joined pair will then be moved to the Final Assembly building for final preparations before liftoff.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Fully Fueled for Launch – James Webb Space Telescope:

In preparation for launch later this month, ground teams have successfully completed the delicate operation of loading the James Webb Space Telescope with the propellant it will use to steer itself while in space.

In order to make critical course corrections shortly after launch, to maintain its prescribed orbit nearly 1 million miles from Earth, and to repoint the observatory and manage its momentum during operations, Webb was built with a total of 12 rocket thrusters. These rocket thrusters use either hydrazine fuel or a special mixture of hydrazine fuel and dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.

To safely handle these extremely toxic propellants, Webb was moved to the fueling section of the Ariane payload preparation facility at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Specialists wore Self-Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble, or "SCAPE," suits while loading the observatory. The nearly 10-day procedure began Nov. 25.

[...] The next large milestones for the joint teams will be to move Webb to the Bâtiment d'Assemblage Final (BAF), or Final Assembly Building; place it atop its rocket; and encapsulate it inside its protective fairing. With final closeouts complete, the full stack of rocket and payload atop its mobile launch platform will be rolled out of the BAF to the launch pad, two days before its scheduled Dec. 22 launch.


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  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday December 24 2021, @08:11PM (4 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 24 2021, @08:11PM (#1207649) Homepage Journal

    Which part of the world will Santa be in at the launch time? The military used to track Santa so they wouldn't launch anything at him. Does NASA even have the secret codes on the secret frequencies to communicate with Santa Clause? I assume that Navy Air is checking on possible collisions! Can't count on Army or Air Force.

    --
    "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @08:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @08:23PM (#1207659)

      Contrary to the propaganda, santa is out with covid, right now in mandatory 10-day quarantine.

      You ain't getting jackshit this x-mas - "supply chain" problem you see.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @09:09PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @09:09PM (#1207667)

      The sleigh's grounded this year because Rudolph violated the Code of Conduct again.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @10:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @10:31PM (#1207684)

        Rudolph usually violates Blitzen. Which one is Code of Conduct?

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @09:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @09:48PM (#1207675)

      Just got a card* with Santa on the couch in a psychotherapy office. The shrink is sitting to one side, she's taking notes on a pad. Santa says, "When I was a kid my parents told me I didn't exist."

      * egad, yes, I mail cards to friends and they mail them to me--it's the latest fun covid pastime.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @08:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @08:16PM (#1207651)

    By and Arain rocket.

    Right. Good job ALL WHITE NASA

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @08:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @08:20PM (#1207656)

    To the Infinity!

    Or Kaput!

    That is the question.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Snotnose on Friday December 24 2021, @09:25PM (5 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Friday December 24 2021, @09:25PM (#1207670)

    If memory serves 138 is the right number, and that doesn't include the launch. If any one of them fails, the whole project fails.

    That means there are 138 managers who's reputation are on the line in the next 30 days, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to be one of them.

    I've done software for 40 years, and I can think of only 2 managers I've had I would trust with one of these, both were with Qualcomm in the 90s.

    Shoutout to Rich and Cliff.

    --
    The Word Of the Day (WOD) is finicky. As in, "sharks avoid the sewage discharge pipe because they make their finicky".
    • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Friday December 24 2021, @10:42PM

      by acid andy (1683) on Friday December 24 2021, @10:42PM (#1207689) Homepage Journal

      Don't tell me that Snotnose. I'm nervous enough about this launch as it is!

      --
      Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:24AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:24AM (#1207718)

      It's 300 and something. Most of them are related to the deployment, but a few are part of the actual science stuff.

      It might work, but if they each have a 0.2% chance of failure, the overall system is still just a coin flip. To get actual good odds you need four or five nines on them all. Assuming the rocket doesn't blow up.

    • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:41PM (#1207785)

      > 138 managers who's reputation are on the line

      Managers? I don't think you know how this works. It's the lousy staff, can't get anyone decent these days. They better shape up else Christmas is cancelled FOREVER you mutts.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:51AM (#1207886)

      One manager can be (and often is) responsible for multiple points of failure.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @10:13PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24 2021, @10:13PM (#1207679)

    What a wonderful day for a new bright star to appear in the sky.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @03:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @03:08PM (#1207794)

      Yes, I too celebrate the solstice of the Julian calendar.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by acid andy on Friday December 24 2021, @10:41PM (3 children)

    by acid andy (1683) on Friday December 24 2021, @10:41PM (#1207688) Homepage Journal

    Thanks SoylentNews, I might well have missed this if it wasn't for this article. Now I've really got something to look forward to on Christmas day!

    Hey, the comment counts on the home page for the most recent stories are showing as zero. Until I clicked on the story I thought I was the only one nerdy enough or addicted enough to be commenting on Christmas eve but I guess something broke.

    Merry Christmas Soylentils!

    --
    Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
    • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:26AM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:26AM (#1207711) Journal

      but I guess something broke

      Like all your fellow Soylentils, perhaps?

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by acid andy on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:36AM

        by acid andy (1683) on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:36AM (#1207721) Homepage Journal

        Shouldn't you consider the possibility that it's the complement of the set of fellow Soylentils that's broken?

        --
        Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Sunday December 26 2021, @03:31AM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday December 26 2021, @03:31AM (#1207890) Journal

      Something broke? What, the atheists won the War on Christmas??

  • (Score: 2) by corey on Friday December 24 2021, @11:06PM (8 children)

    by corey (2202) on Friday December 24 2021, @11:06PM (#1207701)

    Might watch it. JWST is going to be interesting. Hubble is old school.

    For us in AEDT, it’s 9.20pm tonight.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Saturday December 25 2021, @10:00AM (7 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday December 25 2021, @10:00AM (#1207754) Journal

      NASA livestream starts an hour and 20 minutes early, or 1 hour from this comment.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:29PM

        by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:29PM (#1207760) Journal

        Thanks takyon. Because of the story here, I was able to catch the live stream of the launch. n

        --
        Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
      • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:42PM (5 children)

        by acid andy (1683) on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:42PM (#1207761) Homepage Journal

        Hate to lower the tone, but I'm feeling sorry for the guy overseeing the launch, Jean-Luc Voer--it totally sounds like the narrator keeps calling him voyeuer!

        --
        Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
        • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:56PM (2 children)

          by acid andy (1683) on Saturday December 25 2021, @12:56PM (#1207764) Homepage Journal

          s/Voer/Voeur/ s/voyeuer/voyeur/ Seems like an easy name to get wrong!

          Did anyone else see some small bits coming off the bottom part of Webb when it separated from the upper rocket stage? Hope that was just the springs / separation equipment. I thought the foil at the top of the picture looked sort of rough too. Hope there's no problems there!

          --
          Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
          • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:24PM (1 child)

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:24PM (#1207765) Journal

            You see that with pretty much any rocket launch with a camera showing stage separation. It's probably ice or something. It's not a Space Shuttle Columbia situation.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:38PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:38PM (#1207784)

              also the difference in speed between that last and all earlier stages that fell away instantly.

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by tangomargarine on Sunday December 26 2021, @05:51AM (1 child)

          by tangomargarine (667) on Sunday December 26 2021, @05:51AM (#1207905)

          "Jean-Luc Voyager"? Sounds like somebody's getting their Star Trek series mixed up.

          --
          "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
          • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Sunday December 26 2021, @10:55PM

            by acid andy (1683) on Sunday December 26 2021, @10:55PM (#1207967) Homepage Journal

            Yeah even my other half insisted he should be named Picard, what with his bald head and being in charge of (part of) a space mission. I muttered that he needed to say "Make it so."

            --
            Master of the science of the art of the science of art.
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:29PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:29PM (#1207766)

    i wonder what we need to see with it that will allow us to buy 5 bellon dollar$ worth of bitcoins...

    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:31PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @01:31PM (#1207767)

      you need a account at "only fans" for the uhm..err... deep penetrating views of the loonyverse, first...
      (hint: god doesn't drive a ferrari)

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @05:24PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @05:24PM (#1207817)

        Didn't Musk give Him a Tesla?

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @06:15PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @06:15PM (#1207821)

          i suppose we'll see HIM but since HE's sooo far away, the new telescope will see 1/10000 of his left toenail tho the debate will rage on and a new better telescope will be required to clarify which toenail it was exactly ...

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by hendrikboom on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:05PM (11 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:05PM (#1207773) Homepage Journal

    It's in orbit now.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:35PM (#1207782)

      funny that the info graphics show shadows on the cold side.
      https://www.jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/deploymentExplorer.html [nasa.gov]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @02:43PM (#1207786)

      How long til it reaches Mars and initiates planetary oxygenation?

    • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Saturday December 25 2021, @03:12PM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Saturday December 25 2021, @03:12PM (#1207796)

      Damn I missed the launch. I just assumed it would be pushed back again!

      I was watching Scott Manley's video yesterday on Webb and I think he said it will take about 2 weeks to get into the final orbit out past the moon-earth L2 point. They undershot on the upper stage because there was a risk it would be an over-performing engine and send the telescope out past it's orbit, with too much energy for the telescope to use it's fuel to return.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @05:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @05:12PM (#1207815)

        >> Damn I missed the launch. I just assumed it would be pushed back again!

        Yeah, I'd put aside some time in 2029 too.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @07:34PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @07:34PM (#1207835)

      Making it past the swirling swarm of space junk around our poor old planet is a big step. The things that Hubble brought us must be appreciated and not forgotten. Webb is the next stage, the next generation - decades on. I feel privileged to live to see the wonders this new instrument will show us about the universe.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:58AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:58AM (#1207888)

        Not really. Most of what is up there is easily avoided if you are just passing through. The trouble happens when you stay in near Earth orbit, because repeated near-misses means something will eventually hit.

        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Sunday December 26 2021, @07:50PM

          by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Sunday December 26 2021, @07:50PM (#1207959) Homepage
          Most of what's up there, by mass, is avoidable. However, when a speck weighing 1/10 of a gram carries as much energy as a high power rifle round, it's the myraid more in number small things that you actually need to be afraid of, as they can kill something a million times their size. We're a sphere - we're potentially an infinitude of collider beams everywhere, and those particle beams are invisible to us.
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Saturday December 25 2021, @10:29PM (2 children)

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 25 2021, @10:29PM (#1207858)

      Did hell just freeze over??

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hendrikboom on Sunday December 26 2021, @12:35AM (1 child)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 26 2021, @12:35AM (#1207875) Homepage Journal

        Well, if you read Dante, you'll know that the innermost circle of Hell is already a permanently frozen waste.

        • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Sunday December 26 2021, @11:18AM

          by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 26 2021, @11:18AM (#1207918)

          So... telling Musk to go to hell is merely encouragement for his existing endeavour?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @07:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @07:52AM (#1207908)
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @06:38PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @06:38PM (#1207825)
    I find it humorous that they didn't trust SpaceX enough to handle the launch....
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @07:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @07:03PM (#1207831)

      I don't think it would fit in their fairing, and they'd already decided on Arian waaay back

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Saturday December 25 2021, @07:57PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Saturday December 25 2021, @07:57PM (#1207838) Journal

      They started planning this mission in 1996 for a launch in 2007. Falcon 9's maiden flight was in 2010.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @11:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @11:06PM (#1207865)

        Man, we almost got to Web 4.0 before JWST launched.

        It's weird to think that JWST is nearly as old as the WWW. Also weird that that still feels like yesterday.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @11:27PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25 2021, @11:27PM (#1207866)

      They got a free launch, and in return, Europe gets extra time on the telescope

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @10:58AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @10:58AM (#1207917)

        No such thing as a free launch

  • (Score: 0, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:23AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:23AM (#1207884)

    I thought soylentnews supported diversity equity and inclusion.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @02:52AM (#1207887)

      Ok Jew.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @03:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @03:49AM (#1207894)

      In March 2021, a commentary in Scientific American urged NASA to rename the James Webb Space Telescope, alleging that Webb had been complicit in the State Department's purge of LGBTQ individuals from the federal workforce.[23][24] In July 2021, a related telescope renaming article appeared in the journal Nature.[25][26] Scientists who opposed naming the telescope in Webb's honor pointed to the case of NASA budget analyst Clifford Norton, who in 1963 was accused of homosexual behavior, arrested and fired, with NASA calling his suspected conduct "immoral, indecent, and disgraceful". While critics argued that it would have been difficult for Webb not to be aware of these proceedings, direct evidence did not come to light.[27] Astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi wrote an article saying that the initial accusations that Webb was part of the Lavender Scare were based on a quote attributed to Webb which he never said, and that there is little to no evidence Webb took part in anti-gay discrimination.[27] On September 30, 2021, NASA announced that it would keep the JWST name after running an investigation and finding "no evidence at this time that warrants changing the name".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_E._Webb [wikipedia.org]

      TL;DR Someone put words in his mouth and then used that and the actions of others to accuse him.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @05:48AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @05:48AM (#1207904)

      What is this, 6 degrees of cancel culture? Why is it SN's fault for reporting on a thing named after a guy who may have said something that had nothing to do with the thing

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @03:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26 2021, @03:52PM (#1207930)

        OP is obviously mocking the SJW menace.

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