Finally, NASA has launched the James Webb Space Telescope. On Christmas morning, the telescope was launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket after 14 years of development and several delays.
The JSWT will orbit the sun, close to the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system. It will take about a month to reach its destination, after which researchers will be able to peer into black holes, observe some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, and assess the habitability of several exoplanets.
NASA worked with the European and Canadian space agencies to develop the project. The JSWT has suffered from delays throughout its long history. NASA initially hoped to launch it in 2007, but rising costs prompted engineers to rethink the telescope in 2005. The JSWT was then declared ready in 2016, but the project was again shelved due to construction complications. The telescope was assembled in 2019, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leading to delays in testing and shipping.
After the JWST finally reached the spaceport, NASA set a launch date for December 18. However, it has postponed the launch until today due to last-minute inspections and a lack of favorable weather. But what are a few days to such an important mission long in the making? The JWST is finally space-bound, and in the coming months we’ll learn some of its discoveries.
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