Webb Has Arrived Successfully at L2

It’s really happening. The James Webb Space Telescope has successfully reached its orbital destination in space, 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from Earth. A final 5-minute thruster firing on January 24, 2022 put JWST in its halo orbit at the Sun-Earth Lagrange 2 (L2) point. The formal commissioning process can now begin.

“We’re excited to announce today that Webb is officially on station at its L2 orbit, capping off a remarkable 30 days,” said Webb’s commissioning manager Keith Parrish in a January 24 news conference. “It’s an incredible achievement by our team.”

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With Webb Safely Launched, Focus Shifts to the Ariane 6

Last month, an Ariane 5 rocket carried the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) safely to space, the latest of 112 total launches for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) primary workhorse rocket. With a 95.5% success rate, the Ariane 5 has been a reliable ride to space for decades, but its story is about to come to an end. ESA is no longer building new Ariane 5 vehicles, instead developing its next-generation rocket, the Ariane 6, which is intended to provide cheaper access to space. This week, the first completed core stage of a new Ariane 6 rocket arrived at the spaceport outside Korou in French Guiana for testing.

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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’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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After 10 Days of Dangerous, Careful Work, James Webb has Been Fully Fueled up

On Oct. 12th, 2021, after years of waiting and cost overruns, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) finally arrived safely at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The crews began unboxing the next-generation observatory and getting it ready for integration with the Ariane 5 rocket that will take it to space. Then, an “incident” occurred where a clamp band suddenly released, sending vibrations throughout the facility. Once again, the JWST’s launch date was pushed back while crews investigated the source of the problem.

But lo and behold, the due diligence is now done, and the James Webb is back on track! According to the latest news from the ESA, crews have finished fueling the JWST’s thrusters in preparation for its launch, which is scheduled for Dec. 22nd. The Webb will use these thrusters to make course corrections after separating from the Ariane 5 rocket in orbit, maintaining its prescribed orbit, and repointing the observatory during operations.

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