Conceived more than 30 years ago as a successor of the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s next great observatory, $10 billion spacecraft, the most powerful space telescope ever built, passed final ground tests and is ready for its trip to space. It’s an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, a mission with contributions from thousands of scientists, engineers, and other professionals from more than 14 countries and 29 states, in nine different time zones. Engineering teams have completed Webb’s long-spanning comprehensive testing regimen at Northrop Grumman’s facilities. 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.
“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. Shipment operations have begun and will be completed in September. James Webb will make the journey from California by sea, sealed in a 100-foot-long (30 meters) security container. It will pass through the Panama Canal and reach Kourou, French Guiana, at least 55 days before the launch date. There is much to be done before launch. The launch vehicle will be an Ariane 5 rocket provided by ESA (European Space Agency). Once in space, the James Webb Space Telescope will be a new open human eye to the Cosmos.