ESA and NASA have approved a new date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope – December 18, 2021. Previously, the launch was scheduled for mid-November, according to the ESA website.
James Webb will become a next-generation orbital observatory that will conduct observations in the near and mid-infrared wavelengths. The development of the telescope began in 1996, but its assembly was completed only in 2019 due to a number of difficulties. After that, a long period of various tests began, both complex and individual elements of the observatory, which ended at the end of August this year, thus, it took more than 20 years to create the telescope instead of the original 11.
On September 8, 2021, NASA, ESA and Arianespace approved a new date for the launch of the observatory into space, which is now set for December 18. Earlier, the launch was planned for November this year due to additional checks of the Ariane-5 launch vehicle. Currently, work is underway to prepare for the dispatch of the upper stage and the telescope to the Kourou Cosmodrome in French Guiana, which should be completed by the end of September.
After launching into space, the telescope will begin a four-week flight to the second Lagrange point in the Sun-Earth system, where it will operate. Scientific observations will begin six months after the launch, and the total operating time of the telescope is estimated at 5-10 years.
Earlier we talked about the already approved list of the first targets for “James Webb”, and more about his scientific program can be found in the material “What the Hubble replacement will see”.