The day that seemed like it would never come, is closer.
Are we there yet? The next-generation James Webb Space Telescope -- the powerful successor to the famous (and famously old) Hubble Space Telescope -- has finally completed testing and is now ready to be packed up and shipped to its launch site. That's a big checkmark on the to-do list for the much-delayed observatory.
On Thursday, NASA announced the completion of testing [nasa.gov], saying, "Webb's many tests and checkpoints were designed to ensure that the world's most complex space science observatory will operate as designed once in space."
The important part:
The telescope has been put through its paces while safely on the ground. In May, it opened its golden mirror for the last time on Earth [cnet.com]. At one point, NASA had hoped to launch the telescope in 2007, so it's been a long road to reach the end of testing here in 2021.
Preparations for shipping the observatory will wrap up in September. It will need to travel from its current digs at Northrop Grumman's facilities in California, through the Panama Canal and all the way to French Guiana in South America. James Webb is scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 rocket this fall, perhaps as soon as Oct. 31 [cnet.com].