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57 days until launch of James Webb telescope

Image: NASA/Chris Gunn

Edinburgh, 22 October 2021. – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is undergoing final checks after a successful arrival at the launch facility in Kourou French Guiana.

Its launch is scheduled for 18th December 2021, on an Ariane 5 rocket. 

The operational preparations of the world’s largest and most complex space science observatory will take two months in total. Webb will then be configured for flight, loaded with propellants, and mounted on top of the rocket. Because of its size, the spacecraft must be folded to fit into the rocket’s fairing. 

Once operational, Webb will be able to look back “over 13 billion years to the light created just after the Big Bang,” said NASA. The observatory will also help in searching for signs of habitable exoplanets. 

The launch of JWST has been delayed three times so far. First, its planned launch date was moved from May 2020 to March 2021. This was then altered to 31st October 2021, partially due to the coronavirus pandemic. A few months ago, the launch date was changed again to 18th December 2021 as launch preparations clashed with that of the French Military. 

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