Liftoff!
Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

 

 

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope departed its launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on Saturday, December 25, 2021.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a large infrared telescope with a 21.3 foot (6.5 meter) primary mirror. The observatory will study every phase of cosmic history—from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.

Approximately 30 minutes after launch, Webb unfolded its solar array, and mission managers confirmed that the solar array was providing power to the observatory.

Deployment!
Credit: NASA/ESA

 

Engineers and ground controllers will conduct the first of three mid-course correction burns about 12 hours and 30 minutes after launch, firing Webb’s thrusters to maneuver the spacecraft on an optimal trajectory toward its destination in orbit about 1 million miles from Earth.

What’s next?

What’s ahead is a critical 29 days with JWST unfurls in space, undergoing the most difficult and complex deployment sequence ever attempted in space.

— On the third day, the heat shield will begin to deploy. On the eleventh day, the secondary mirror will begin positioning.

— Between the 13th and 14th day, the primary mirror, comprising 18 hexagonal segments and measuring 6.5 meters in diameter, will be assembled.

— The telescope is slated to arrive at its final destination, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, approximately 29 days after launch.

To keep an eye on the commissioning of the telescope, go to these resources:

29 Days on the Edge at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUAvXYW5bmI

These animations show the James Webb Space Telescope deployment sequence, as well as breakout animations of each major deployment on the telescope.

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/20339

Make use of this excellent JWST media kit at:

https://www.webb.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/assets/documents/WebbMediaKit.pdf

Commissioning!
Credit: Northrop Grumman

 

On location!
Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

 

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