Testing Confirms Webb Telescope on Track for Targeted December 22 Launch

The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch Dec. 22,  has a cool side, which faces away from the Sun, and a hot side, which faces the Sun.
The James Webb Space Telescope has a cool side, which faces away from the Sun, and a hot side, which faces the Sun. (NASA)

Baltimore, MD-(ENEWSPF)- Engineering teams have completed additional testing confirming NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is ready for flight, and launch preparations are resuming toward Webb’s target launch date of Wednesday, December 22, at 7:20 a.m. EST.

Additional testing was conducted this week to ensure the observatory’s health following an incident that occurred when the release of a clamp band caused a vibration throughout the observatory.

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, engineering teams completed these tests, and a NASA-led anomaly review board concluded no observatory components were damaged in the incident. A “consent to fuel” review was held, and NASA gave approval to begin fueling the observatory. Fueling operations will begin Thursday, Nov. 25, and will take about 10 days. Again, launch, as of now, is on target for December 22.

The Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. It will explore every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe, and everything in between. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries, and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.

The James Webb Space Telescope has a cool side, which faces away from the Sun, and a hot side, which faces the Sun.

Webb’s tennis court-sized sunshield protects the telescope from external sources of light and heat, which ensures it can detect faint heat signals from very distant objects. It’s very important for its observing side to be very, very cold.

The lower part of Webb, where its five-layered sunshield is, faces the Sun. This is where its equipment that does not need to be cooled, like its solar panel, antennae, computer, gyroscopes, and navigational jets, are.

Webb’s science instruments are housed behind the mirror, separated from the warm communications and control technology by the sunshield.