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posted by martyb on Thursday September 09, @12:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the better-nate-than-lever dept.

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.


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  • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Thursday September 09, @02:31PM (3 children)

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Thursday September 09, @02:31PM (#1176268)

    I think that at this point, we should forgo the launch and move it straight to the Smithsonian. I'd hate to see anything happen to it where we might not be able to memorialize it forever.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 09, @02:55PM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday September 09, @02:55PM (#1176274) Journal

    Like one of the hundreds of mechanical parts on it failing, and then it drifts around in space, never to be used or serviced?

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    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday September 09, @04:49PM

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday September 09, @04:49PM (#1176301) Journal

      In the event that it actually make's it up there, that part is a given. How long will it function? That is the key. In the event it lasts 20 years, I would say that's a good long run. Worst case scenario, there is a rapid unplanned disassembly at launch.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @08:55AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 10, @08:55AM (#1176539)

    Reminds me of an episode in one of the Star Trek (maybe another sci-fi?) series where they quickly mentioned the "heated" debate about whether to put one of the famous rovers on Mars in a museum there or bring it back to Earth.