On December 22, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency will launch a space observatory built into outer space – some 1.5 million kilometres from Earth, to be exact.
The space observatory has been designed as a successor to NASA and ESA’s Hubble telescope. James Webb will be launched to what is known as Lagrange point 2, or L2, where it will orbit the sun 1.5 million km from Earth.
This vantage point, as well as the infrared capabilities of Webb, will allow scientists to peer further and deeper into the cosmos. Raphael Chevrier, Head of Bid Management and Innovation for Arianespace, told Euronews Next:
“The further we look, the more we go back in time, closer to the origins of the universe and therefore the Big Bang.”
The French aerospace company will be providing the Ariane 5 heavy launcher that will carry the James Webb telescope into space from the ESA launchpad in French Guiana.
“Webb will be able to look at the formation of the first galaxies, primitive galaxies, and see how they have evolved in time.” added Chevrier.
James Webb can look very far into the universe and the launch will last 27 minutes. There’s also the enormous cost of the project.
The telescope has been built with 12 rocket thrusters. The goal is to course-correct post-launch, reposition itself and maintain its prescribed orbit in space.
It will take the telescope 29 days before it can insert itself into orbit at L2.