NASA has finally assembled the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope, which will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Hubble Space Telescope launched 29 years ago and is still in function. However, the spacecraft is getting old and has faced some technical problems. So now, scientists are really excited to try the new more powerful James Webb.
Engineers at the Northrop Grumman’s spacecraft factory in Southern California have finally connected the spacecraft and science modules of the James Webb Space Telescope.
They used a crane to put the telescope together with the other major component, a combined spacecraft, and sun-shield. Together, they will be part of a mission that will explore the vastness in a way no other telescope has done before.
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The next step is to electrically connect the telescope and test it out.
“The assembly of the telescope and its scientific instruments, sun-shield and the spacecraft into one observatory represents an incredible achievement by the entire Webb team,” said Bill Ochs, Webb project manager for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“This milestone symbolizes the efforts of thousands of dedicated individuals for over more than 20 years across NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, Northrop Grumman, and the rest of our industrial and academic partners.”
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine called the accomplishment a “major milestone.”
Congrats to the James Webb Space Telescope on a major milestone. For the 1st time ever, the spacecraft and telescope have been joined together as one observatory. After further integration, @NASAWebb will undergo tests before it is shipped for launch. https://t.co/nGnjdpS5Hr pic.twitter.com/4LzeDiggsB— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) August 28, 2019
Now that engineers have fully assembled the observatory, it will go through additional environmental and deployment testing to ensure mission success. The spacecraft will “hopefully” launch into space in 2021.
Previously, NASA wanted to launch the telescope in 2018, but scientists have pushed it back multiple times while racking up some serious cost overruns. However, the latest accomplishment gives us hope that 2021 will be the final date for a launch.
Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency.