Webb’s Mirror Now Fully Unfolded. Prepare to Witness the Power of This Unprecedented Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope primary mirror is now fully unfolded, which successfully completes the mission’s major deployments. The starboard side of the primary mirror was released into place today, completing a two-week long, complex deployment sequence. The mirror of the most powerful space telescope ever built is now open, preparing to “unfold the Universe.”

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Here’s Why Webb Doesn’t Have Cameras on Board to Livestream its Deployment

Illustration of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Credits: NASA

As the James Webb Space Telescope unfolds and makes its way to its final destination in space, NASA and ESA have done a great job of sharing the experience with the public. With webcasts, livestreams and a very active social media presence, the JWST team has allowed people to watch over the shoulders of engineers and scientists, as well as ask questions about the process of commissioning the new telescope.

The most often asked question on social media and at several press conferences seems to be, why weren’t cameras put on JWST to provide actual live footage from the telescope? Wouldn’t seeing it firsthand be better than just receiving telemetry?

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JWST Deploys its Secondary Mirror. It’s a Real Telescope Now

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a telescope.

The secondary mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope was successfully deployed in space today, an incredibly important milestone.

“We are 600,000 miles from Earth and we have a telescope,” said Bill Ochs, JWST program manager, speaking triumphantly to his team after the secondary mirror was deployed and then latched in place.

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Success! Webb Sunshield Now Fully Deployed

Illustration of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Credits: NASA

If you felt a little more tension – and perhaps more goosebumps — in the Universe today, it’s probably because the James Webb Space Telescope’s sunshield is now completely and successfully deployed! All five layers of the sunshield have been fully extended and “tensioned” into the final taut, kite-shaped configuration. This is a huge accomplishment (and huge relief) for the entire international Webb mission

“This has been many years in the making, and is a really big moment for the entire team,” said the JWST mission operations manager after the final events to tension and latch the sunshield were confirmed. “There’s nothing cooler in space than JWST!”

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JWST Just Deployed a Sail That Lets it Stop Getting Pushed Around by the Sun’s Radiation.

On December 25th, 2021, astronomers and space exploration enthusiasts got the greatest Christmas present of all! After years of delays, cost overruns, and additional testing, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. In what was a real nail-biter, the Ariane 5 rocket and its precious payload reached orbit without a hitch. But as is so often the case, the deployment of the JWST was just the first in a series of “hurry up and wait” episodes.

Typically, periods of waiting are seeing are accompanied by plenty of worry and doubt. Luckily, there have been several positive developments since the JWST launched that could help alleviate these anxieties. The latest is how the telescope successfully deployed its aft momentum flap, an instrument that will keep the telescope oriented during its mission. The news was announced yesterday (December 30th) via @NASAWebb, NASA’s official Twitter account for the Webb telescope, and the JWST page at NASA Blogs.

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JWST’s Precise Launch and Near-Perfect Course Corrections Mean Fuel Savings. And That Means a Longer Mission

After a detailed analysis of where the James Webb Space Telescope is now (Dec. 29, 2021) and how it got there, NASA determined the observatory should have enough propellant to operate in space for significantly more than 10 years in space.

Webb’s mission lifetime was designed to be at least 5-1/2 years, and mission engineers and scientists were hoping for closer to 10 years.

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JWST Is On Its Way!

It’s really happening. After all the years of delays, reschedulings, budget shortfalls, and even more delays, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on December 25 and is now successfully on its way to is destination at the second LaGrange point (L2), about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from Earth.

If you celebrate Christmas and are astronomically inclined, the launch feels like a true Christmas miracle.

The footage of JWST’s separation from the Ariane 5 rocket, as seen from a camera on the rocket’s second stage is just absolutely stunning.

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Webb Telescope Officially Cleared for Launch on December 25

Illustration of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Credits: NASA

UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this article, Arianespace announced the launch for JWST has been delayed until December 25:

“Due to adverse weather conditions at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the flight #VA256 to launch the James Webb Space Telescope –initially scheduled for December 24– is being postponed,” Arianespace said via Twitter. “Tomorrow evening, local time, another weather forecast will be issued in order to confirm the date of December 25. The #Ariane5 launch vehicle and Webb are in stable and safe conditions in the Final Assembly Building.”

Earlier today, NASA and ESA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope has cleared one of the final hurdles before launch. The telescope passed the final launch readiness review, meaning that all the hardware and software for the spacecraft and the Ariane 5 rocket are ready for flight. This officially greenlights the liftoff.

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